Saturday, February 19 is National Caregivers Day. It’s a day designated by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (HAHC) to honor those who work endlessly to give their time and care for friends and loved ones.
We all understand the mental and physical strain can have on our health when caring for another loved one. And more often than not, caregivers overlook their own wellbeing. If you or someone you know is currently a caregiver, below are some helpful tips to take into consideration when it comes to taking care of YOU while being the best caregiver you can be.
- Seek support. Remember that you’re not alone. It may sometimes feel that way but there are millions of others just like you in your same position. Check out local community meet-ups and online forums – a great place to seek advice and support.
- Take care of you. It’s easy to get caught up in the life of caregiving, but caring for yourself is just as important. If you’re not at your best, how can you expect to be the best for your loved one?
- Accept help. It’s okay if you can’t do everything by yourself – no one expects you to! If you can, delegate certain tasks to other family members or services. Caregiving can be a full time job and if you’re someone who has a family, a job or other priorities, your plate can get full pretty quickly. Asking and accepting help can lower your stress and workload (and also help you be the best caregiver you can be).
- Effectively communicate with doctors. Having poor communication with healthcare providers such as doctors can cause problems or errors when it comes to your loved ones health. Ask questions, follow up and repeat back what you heard to ensure that you are understanding a doctor’s orders. This video helps explain how to talk to a doctor.
- Take breaks often and when you need them. This tip can go hand in hand with #3, accepting help. To avoid burnout, make sure you’re taking breaks to take care of you. Whether that is asking for someone to step in for an hour or two so you can do something for yourself, or setting boundaries to focus on yourself. Taking breaks will allow you to show up and be the best version of yourself for your loved one.
- Watch out for your mental health. If you are starting to feel depressed, prioritize your health and seek professional help as soon as you can. According to a survey held by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), half of the respondents said they have experienced prolonged depression because of their caregiving responsibilities. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider:
– feeling hopeless or helpless
– losing interest in things
– fatigue and problems sleeping
– changes in appetite
– uncontrollable emotions
- Technology is your friend. If you’re looking for ways to have help, don’t be afraid to turn to different technologies. This could mark your life and workload easier to handle when it comes to caregiving.
- Organize medical information. Not only will this make your life easier when dealing with many different doctors, but it’s also a good tool to pass on to help. Keeping a running list, whether on paper, a computer or through an app, will help keep you and everyone else organized.
- Organize any legal documents. This includes a will, living will, any trust documents, banking info, deeds and even bills. Knowing where these items are and keeping them up to date will you organized.
- Give yourself credit! Caregiving can be one of the toughest jobs out there. Take a second to stop and appreciate yourself and what you’re doing. You deserve it!