Staying Healthy As A Family Caregiver
When loved ones become ill or disabled, family caregivers often step in to attend to a variety of tasks. From personal care to shopping, cooking, and driving to medical appointments, the requirements of caregiving can take significant time and resources.
If you’re providing care for a spouse or other family member, be sure to take time to care for yourself as well. Here are some steps to consider to keep yourself healthy.
Get adequate rest, nutrition and exercise
Research has found that caregivers often are in worse health than the loved ones for whom they provide care. One survey found that nearly a quarter of caregivers said their health had declined because of caregiving duties.
To keep your physical health in top condition, it’s critical that you set aside time for rest and exercise, as well as prioritizing the nutrition you need.
Many people say they have trouble finding time for exercise, and busy caregivers often feel crunched for time. However, exercising regularly may result in a range of benefits, including increased energy, better sleep, improved mood, and lowered stress. To get the full benefits of exercise, be sure to include strength training, aerobic activities and stretching in your workouts.
Speaking of rest, the average adult needs seven to nine hours per night to feel their best. The exact amount you require will vary, but if you feel tired throughout the day, you may need more.
To keep your body running at full speed, try to find ways to fit healthy eating into your busy schedule. The average American eats too much fat, salt and calories and not enough antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Eating according to the government’s guidelines can help you control your weight and reduce a number of health risks, experts say.
Manage stress levels
Serving as a primary caregiver for a family member can cause significant stress; 40 percent of caregivers report significant emotional stress related to their responsibilities, a study found.
To maintain your emotional health as you care for your loved one, try to practice mindfulness, noticing the circumstances that elicit negative emotions. Once you recognize stressors, you can take steps to change them.
In addition, find ways to express your feelings, and consider relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing.
Ask for help when you need it
Many family caregivers feel uncomfortable asking for assistance, feeling that they should be able to handle the responsibilities on their own. However, everyone needs help now and then. Other family members, as well as friends, may be willing to offer assistance but may not know how they can contribute.
If you have willing family members or friends nearby, reach out to them with specific requests — whether that’s attending to tasks such as driving to a doctor’s appointment, or taking over caregiving duties to give you a day off.
Consider a community like Edgehill
Edgehill offers a range of living options, including your choice of 18 unique independent living floor plans, as well as memory care and sub-acute rehabilitation. At Edgehill, you or your loved one will enjoy welcoming accommodations along with a comprehensive array of supportive services and amenities you need to fully enjoy life. To learn more, please contact us today.