Life changes in an instant sometimes. The carefree existence that was once enjoyed is now a fading memory when you become a caregiver. This change can happen out of necessity or by choice, and demands made on the caregiver may be new and unanticipated. Either way, major lifestyle adjustments inevitably take place for the caregiver. Caregiving is not an easy role to play because it means the wellbeing and safety of another person is your responsibility.
As a result, the caregiver can experience emotional, physical and behavioral changes over time. Stress affects the entire person. Eating habits are altered and sleeping patterns shift, which in turn affects caregiver health in general. Thoughts affect our feelings, which affect our behaviors. It is important to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout. Once burnout occurs, previously healthy caregiving arrangements may need to be altered or even stopped.
As the caregiver, it is very important to stay physically and mentally healthy by controlling stress levels and avoiding caregiver burnout. By doing so, the caregiver becomes more effective and better able to manage other important aspects of their life. Many caregivers are juggling their own family, a hectic career or pursuing an education.
A caregiver must make their needs known and not be afraid to ask for help. People around you are often unaware you are drowning. Other family members or friends could help lighten the load sometimes, just needing to be asked. Here are 10 tips on how to manage your caregiver role in a healthy way:
- Divide or distribute tasks such as shopping, paying bills and direct care.
- Graciously accept help when help is offered.
- Do not act as if everything is under control when they are not.
- Learn to give up control to others and not micro manage delegated tasks.
- Set aside time to take breaks and take time for yourself.
- Change settings and get out of the house even if only for a few hours. A change in scenery will improve your mood and behavior.
- Take time to enjoy yourself. Visiting friends to talk and laugh will provide relief from a stressful situation.
- A little pampering will provide a sense of renewal. Give yourself a break and plan time away from the situation. Periodic mini-vacations where the burden of caregiving is lifted can make a big difference. They relieve stress and alternative care arrangements are easier to arrange for the shorter span of time.
- Make sure to release pent up feelings of aggression or frustration through a positive outlet such as exercise.
- Take time to pursue activities that allow for personal growth and development.
You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Keep up with doctor’s appointments, get regular exercise and eat right. Good sleeping habits help maintain good health during times of stress. If the caregiver is rundown and worn out, the quality of care diminishes quickly. There is a great deal of pressure and stress when caregiving for a person that is sick or elderly. Being a caregiver takes patience and sacrifice. Maintaining good health both mentally and physically is important for all involved. You are valued and loved! Thank you for all that you do to care for your loved ones.
For information on Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey, please contact us at 732.942.3592 or by clicking here. We are conveniently located at 600 River Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey.