Caring for someone who needs day-to-day caregiver assistance can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Whether you’re a hired professional or a family member or loved one, helping someone meet their needs can be demanding. As caretakers, you pour your heart and soul into providing companionship, emotional and physical support, and helping to make life a little easier for the person you’re caring for. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, tired, and exhausted from giving someone your all. The fact of the matter is that caregiver burnout is real, and it’s important to take care of yourself, especially in situations where you’re taking care of others.
Finding healthy ways to combat the strains caregiving can have on your body doesn’t have to be monumental, or life-altering. Here, we’ll discuss a few resources and tips to help you stay strong, while caring for someone who needs your help.
Caregiver Burnout – Caring for Yourself While Caring for Others
Caregivers come in many different forms. From parents to grandparents, other family members, volunteers, and even individuals who earn their living caring for special needs or physically disabled people, caretakers come from all walks of life. In some cases, in-home care with family is the easiest and most cost-effective way to help a differently-abled person. In others, financial assistance and programs rely on the help of organizations and programs to provide appropriate care to their loved ones. No matter what kind of caretaker you may be, your work is monumental in improving the quality of life of those who suffer from a variety of disorders or cognitive delays.
It’s important to first realize and acknowledge that being a caretaker means that you’re exerting yourself physically and emotionally to make sure that another person is able to enjoy the best quality of life possible. This can take a serious toll on your psyche, and at the end of the day, taking care of yourself is most important. If you’re not feeling balanced or your body hurts, keeping your loved ones safe and happy can be a constant struggle. Below are a few simple tips and resources to help offer you support as a caregiver, and ensure that you’re refreshed and ready to take on every day.
- Find your tribe – A support group, or local community, where others who are in your position is a great way to connect with people who are living the same experiences and challenges you are. United Brain Association has a caregiver support group located on our Facebook Page to help you connect with other caregivers. Oftentimes, camaraderie and understanding can be the best outlet for struggles, and awareness of the challenges you may face as a caretaker. Groups that welcome caregivers from all walks of life, that are inclusive and inviting, can offer insight, tips, and the realization that you’re not alone.
- Diet and exercise – Even people who aren’t carrying the load of caregiving struggle with a healthy balance of good nutritional eating, and physical activity. To keep your brain and body healthy, consider loading on healthy fats, veggies, and fruits. Add a few days of moderate physical activity to keep your body moving, and remember not to overdo it! We know time is treasured, especially when you’ve taken on the role of a caregiver, so allow yourself some flexibility. A healthy diet paired with activity can help you lift your moods, think more clearly, and elevate your energy levels to keep up with your busy lifestyle.
- Ask for help – Caring for ourselves is hard enough, but caring for another person is a whole different set of circumstances. Even if your career is in caregiving, the job can be overwhelming and daunting. It’s ok to ask for help, especially in situations where you feel unable to complete any given task to the best of your ability. Asking is not a sign of weakness or inability.
- Make time for yourself – This is especially important for caregivers who live in the home or are relatives of the person they’re taking care of. If your every waking minute seems to consist of caring for another person’s needs, taking time for yourself is imperative to keep yourself balanced. Even if it means stepping outside for 15 minutes to reach a moment of zen, you can’t do it all without a bit of self-centering
- Accept your limitations – You’re already a superhero – trust us! We know you bend over backward, fit in more than you can, and massage your time to be productive. But know that it’s okay to take time and set healthy limitations to your daily schedule. Boundaries are important, and overexerting yourself isn’t helping anyone!
Of course, many of our self-care tips sound great, but the execution isn’t always the easiest thing to execute. Below are some helpful resources for caregivers, to better care for themselves and ensure they’re able to provide care for their family and loved ones, as well.
- Caregiveraction.org – Here, you’ll find the caregiver toolbox. With links to nutritionists, FAQs, video tutorials, and so much more, sites like these help you organize your day and keep everyone on track.
- Disorder and disease foundation websites – For every disorder, ailment, and condition that leaves a person in need of caregiver assistance, there’s a website with resources available. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Foundation have sections on their website for caregivers. These foundations cater their resources to best help caretakers manage the specific symptoms and struggles those suffering from the disorder may experience.
- Caring.com – Another amazing organization making the needs of caregivers their top priority. They’ll help connect you to communities and support groups, books, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of support media to help you in your journey.
- Apps – It’s true, it seems there’s an app for everything. Of course, there are apps designed to assist caregivers, and the families of loved ones affected by disabilities or disorders, get some much-needed help. Consider apps like Lotsahelpinghands – a resource geared towards families and friends who can assist with simple tasks, stay organized, and help delegate important tasks. Ecare21 is another great app, designed to assist in round the clock monitoring for a variety of health vitals, and keep doctors and other caregivers informed without being intrusive.
If you or a loved one has taken on the role of a caregiver, it’s important to stay aware of your own needs. Caregiver burnout can mean that your personal health starts to falter, but it can also mean the quality of care you can provide wanes as well. To ensure you’re living your best life while providing great care, utilizing some of our tips and resources may help support you even more.
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