Caregiving can be a rewarding experience. Providing physical and emotional support to someone you love is often very fulfilling. But it can also create challenges that increase daily stress. Chronically high stress levels have been linked to weakened immune systems, heart disease, and depression.
As a caregiver, reducing stress is essential. Read on to learn how to make stress management part of your new year’s resolution.
6 Tips to Manage Caregiver Stress in the New Year
Here are a few suggestions to help you live a happier and healthier life in 2018.
1. Watch your physical health
When you care for someone else, it’s easy to lose track of your own health. Stay well by tending to your own health care needs:
● Get regular checkups and stay up-to-date on vaccines and prescription medications.
● Make sure you get enough sleep. Experts say most people need 7–8 hours each night.
● Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise.
● Let your physician know that you are a caregiver. This will give him or her a better understanding of your needs.
2. Get social support
Emotional health is just as important as physical health, so seek out support and encouragement:
● Local non-profits may offer support groups for caregivers.
● Online forums or Facebook groups for caregivers let you participate anytime. The Family Caregiver Alliance can help you connect with an online group.
● A social group, such as a book club, may give you a physical and mental break from caregiving.
● Stay in touch with good friends and family.
3. Let others help you
There is nothing wrong with asking others for help with caregiving:
● If you don’t know where to start, Randall Residence’s resources page has some ideas.
● Community programs may provide services such as home health aides, meal deliveries, or companionship for your senior loved one.
● Some memory-care centers, like Randall Residence, offer short-term stays for your senior loved one if you have to go out of town.
● If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association Community Resource Finder can help you look for help near you.
● Friends and family often want to help but don’t know how. Ask for help in specific ways, such as driving your mom to her doctor’s appointment or helping your dad with laundry.
4. Learn relaxation techniques
Deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness exercises take a little practice, but they might help reduce both the physical and mental symptoms of stress. You may find it difficult to set aside time specifically for relaxing, but doing so will likely help to improve your overall health. That can result in more energy and higher productivity in the long term.
5. Plan for the future
If you haven’t done so already, make sure your loved one’s medical, financial, and legal paperwork is complete and up-to-date. This will give your family peace of mind and reassurance for the future.
You will likely need to consult a lawyer who specializes in elder law, or a financial planner with experience in long-term planning.
6. Accept imperfection
No one can be a perfect caregiver all the time, in every way. Accept that you will make mistakes, and then learn from them. Be as kind to yourself as you are to your loved one
As a caregiver, stress is not just something that goes away after the holiday season. This year, resolve to make your health a priority and reduce your stress levels. Not only will you feel better, but it might even make you a better caregiver in the long run!
If caregiving has become too overwhelming, contact the team at the Randall Residence near you. We can help with your elder care challenges.