Caregiving — it may seem like a sprint, but more often it’s a marathon. You don’t want to just survive the whole process, you want to enjoy the journey and thrive through it all. Impossible, you might say? Well, it’s certainly not easy, but taking care of yourself is the key. Your physical, mental and social needs must be met in order for you to give the best care, to survive and thrive through it all.
Being a caregiver is a hard job. The statistics are in and this job can cost you your health and well-being. Caregivers are more likely to become depressed and even suffer a fatal illness. Where the mind goes, the body often follows. It’s absolutely vital that you take care of yourself. Not only will you be better off, so will the loved one you’re caring for.
Don’t Take This Journey Alone
Do whatever you can to get help with care giving. You really don’t know how long your mom or dad is going to need your help, so getting help now will save you in the long run. If family can’t be there to do the hands-on helping, they might be able to help pay for in-home help. You need time to rest and recuperate through this journey. You need some time to just catch your breath and tend to your own needs. If your loved one is able, get them involved at a senior center. Many of them have adult day care that you can use perhaps a day or two a week.
Take Care of Your Own Health
Eating right, sleeping well and getting out for some exercise is more important than ever. You might not be able to go to the gym, but take a walk or record a yoga series from the television. I happen to like one called “Happy Yoga” with Sarah Starr. She’s always out in nature and has a really calming voice. It’s a great way to de-stress and we all need that!
Make sure to schedule those check-ups with your doctor. Your health could be at stake during this time in your life. It’s also really important to have time with your significant other and with friends. Spending time with someone who will listen can really give you the lift you need, even if it’s just to take a short walk or meet for coffee.
Refresh Your Spirit
I used to tell my children, “attitude is everything.” It could not be truer for those who are caring for others. Our moods are contagious. Keeping your words sweet and having a positive outlook can make a huge difference to your mental health and the atmosphere both you and your loved one experience. Put on some good music during the day, have coffee on the front porch, watch a funny movie a couple of times of week. Both you and your parent will enjoy the days instead of just getting through them.
Learn to Roll with the Punches
Having a good schedule is really important for you and the one you’re caring for, but also keep in mind you’ll need to be flexible with that schedule. Unexpected illnesses, health appointments or even a car problem can throw that schedule to the curb. Take a deep breath and remember whatever you are going through won’t last forever. You will get through this if you take care of yourself as well as the loved one you’re caring for. Make the most of every day — each one is truly a gift.