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5 Ways for Caregivers to Practice Self-Care

November 05, 2023 Posted in: Blogs

November is National Family Caregivers Month. If you’re a caregiver, practice self-love this month with these five tips. 

1. Know and Pay Attention to Signs of Burnout.

Caregiving comes with many positive emotions and experiences—and many challenges. Burnout is common among caregivers who often put their loved ones first. It’s impossible to be the caregiver you want to be if you have nothing left to give. Knowing the signs of caregiver stress, paying attention to them and being proactive about self-care can help prevent becoming burned out and overwhelmed.

Signs of burnout and caregiver stress include:

  • Irritability

  • Feelings of loneliness or isolation     

  • Frequent headaches or body aches

  • Loss of interest in things you enjoy

  • Too much or too little sleep      

  • Weight gain or loss

 

2. Practice Self-Care.

Self-care is more than a spa day. It’s also having healthy boundaries, recognizing your own needs and setting aside time for your mental and physical health.

You can practice self-care through:

  • Following a consistent sleep routine

  • Guided journaling

  • Having a gratitude practice

  • Meeting a friend for an event or lunch

  • Organizing caregiving-related documents or supplies to streamline daily tasks

  • Taking a daily walk

  • Telling others when you need help

 

3. Access Support.

Caregiver support groups, individual counseling and spending time with friends can be helpful ways to lower stress, process emotions and remind you that you’re not alone. If leaving home is difficult, find support through online support groups, virtual healthcare visits and video chats with friends. 

Getting extra help for the person you care for is another way to care for yourself. Accessing support services gives you an opportunity to slow down and relax or check something off your to-do list without worrying about your loved one. 

Consider these helpful support options:

  • Asking a friend to run an errand or prepare a meal

  • Professional home care or housekeeping services

  • Services through a Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

  • Regularly scheduled visits for your loved one with a clergy member, family member, friend or neighbor

 

Your primary care provider and a senior care specialist are also excellent resources. They can help connect you and your loved one with aging-in-place support, caregiver training, community food or housing assistance, medical equipment, and more.

4. Consider Respite.

Many people think of respite care in emergencies or times of extreme stress. However, accessing respite care when things are calm can have several benefits for you and your loved one. Scheduling regular respite for a couple of days every few months gives you a much-needed break. It also allows the person you care for to get used to respite care, making transitions easier for everyone if emergency respite is needed.

There are several options for respite care, including:

  • A local skilled nursing facility

  • An overnight stay at a friend or family member’s house for your loved one

  • Having a friend or family member come to your home

  • Hiring a professional caregiver for a few days and nights

 

5. Schedule Leisure Time at Home.

You don’t have to leave home to get a break. Scheduling a few minutes of daily leisure time at home with the person you care for can go a long way. 

Consider activities such as:

  • A living room dance party

  • Doing a puzzle together

  • Looking at old photos together

  • Reading to your loved one or listening to an audiobook together

  • Recording family stories or personal memories

  • Playing a game of cards or checkers

 

If you care for a loved one who has dementia, it can be challenging to keep them engaged. Still, there are several activities you can enjoy together. Choose an open-ended activity, such as arranging plastic flowers or a paint-with-water activity made for adults. Sharing an activity side by side is an excellent way for everyone to decrease stress, deepen connections and have fun.

Schedule a visit with your St. Luke’s Health primary care provider to learn more self-care tips.

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