Caregiving for seniors can be very rewarding, but at the same time, it can be quite challenging, physically and mentally. Every caregiver needs to look after themselves first when taking care of someone else. Think of it as the oxygen mask in an airplane. We are taught to first put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we try to help someone else to put theirs on. It is quite counter-intuitive, but absolutely crucial because if we have a blackout from lack of oxygen, we won’t be able to help someone else.
It is natural to want to look after someone else first and put our own needs last. But personal health and happiness should always come first. It’s easy to burn out, feel lonely, become depressed, or develop health issues when caregiving, in which case we won’t be able to help someone else, no matter the good intentions. Looking after yourself is not selfish. It’s the best thing you can do for the seniors in your care.
The following tips will help caregivers to look after themselves and enable them to give the best to the seniors in their care.
Tips on Caregiving for Yourself
Support system: It’s advisable for caregivers who look after a family member to hire a professional caregiver to help out, whether on a permanent basis or just whenever the load gets too heavy to carry alone. Professional caregivers will also do well by being part of a home care agency like Alegre Home Care for a great support system.
Spending time outside: Time outside in nature makes us feel alive and happy. The fresh air and movement help us to recharge our batteries and keep us healthy.
Regular exercise: Apart from the health benefits that come with exercise, it helps to clear the mind and decrease anger, tension, and depression.
Healthy eating: A large portion of fruit and vegetables each day gives us more energy and makes us healthier and happier. It’s advisable to limit coffee intake to one or two cups a day. Coffee keeps us going, but it also disguises when we need to rest. Taking a nap when tired is much better.
Reading a book: Relaxing with a book, especially fiction, helps us to escape to another world. It stimulates the brain and rejuvenates the soul.
Laughing out loud: Laughter is called the “best medicine” for a reason – it lightens the burden and relaxes the whole body. Laughing with others also helps us connect with them.
Bathing with music and candles: A relaxing bath with candles and your favorite tunes will help you destress, and the music will uplift your spirit.
Petting a dog: Dogs are great listeners, and they love their human friends unconditionally. Playing with a dog will create a sense of love and connection and instantly make you feel better.
Regular meditation: A few minutes a day of quieting the mind can do wonders to our mental wellness. Meditation releases stress and puts things in perspective. It makes us more positive and happy, and it gives us energy.
Regular massage sessions: When caregiving for seniors, our muscles can quickly become sore from lifting or helping the senior. A massage not only soothes muscle tension, but it also reduces stress and improves sleep quality.
Getting out of town: Vacationing is an excellent way to help caregivers recharge and refresh their focus. Everybody deserves a break! If you’re caring for a loved one, taking a professional caregiver with on vacation with you will help share the load, making the break enjoyable for both caregiver and senior.
Getting enough sleep: Enough quality sleep improves health, increases happiness, and detoxes the brain. At least eight to nine hours sleep a day is needed to recuperate properly.
Keeping a journal: A journal is a great outlet for anyone in stressful and challenging circumstances, and works equally well for caregivers looking after seniors. It also helps us to remember the triumphs and fun little moments.
Talking to friends and family: Our family and friends are often our biggest supporters. When talking to others, we realize that we’re not alone and it put things into perspective. The support and love from family keeps our mind off trying circumstances and makes every day worth it.
Regular yoga sessions: Yoga is a great tool to help you mentally and physically. It lowers stress, improves mood, boosts confidence, improves breathing, lowers blood pressure, decreases the risk of injury, and increase flexibility and strength. A perfect activity for any caregiver!
Are You a Caregiver Who Needs Support??
Caregivers who look after themselves first can give so much more to the seniors in their care. These tips can be implemented one at a time until you feel comfortable with them. If you need help applying these tips or just need the support, Alegre Home Care is always here for you. Click here to contact us!