Five Tips for Better Caregiver Health
A substantial body of research shows that family members who provide care to individuals with chronic or disabling conditions are themselves at risk. Emotional, mental, and physical health problems arise from complex caregiving situations and the strains of caring for frail or disabled relatives.
The National Institute on Aging recently shared a helpful infographic, identifying 5 important tips to help caregivers focus on their own health and avoid a premature decline in well being. Let's take a closer look:
1. Ask for help when you need it. - Caregivers are often consumed with the responsibilities they face daily. Learning to delegate and request help can be a challenge of its own. Remember, there are others who can take on some responsibilities to lighten your load. You may ask others for help in caring for your loved one, or you may ask for help in other areas such as household chores, transportation, shopping, etc. Make a list of your responsibilities and assess each one to determine who can help.
2. Spend time with friends. - There is a famous Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that says, "things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend." Remember to lean on your friends in good times and bad, sharing with each other the little victories and challenges you face.
3. Join a support group - in person or online. - Support groups are an amazing way to connect with others who may truly understand you, your challenges, and your needs. Caring.com has multiple family caregiver support groups and can be accessed here: https://www.caring.com/support-groups
You may also consider participating in your local Family Care Council in order to connect with others. You can learn more and find your area here: http://www.fccflorida.org/local-councils.html
4. Take breaks each day. Research shows that taking even a 15- to 20-minute break helps concentration and energy levels throughout the entire day, promoting greater efficiency and creativity. Remember to eat lunch, have a coffee break, close your eyes and catch a cat nap - find the breaks that work best to rejuvenate and refresh you!
5. Keep up with hobbies. Hobbies are food for the soul. They nurture our spirit, restore our physical energy, and renew our mind. If you are looking for a hobby, a good way to spark an interest is to think back to when you were a kid. What did you enjoy doing as a child? Did get joy from drawing, writing poetry, playing sports? It's never too late to rekindle the fun!