Caring for the Caregiver: To Care for Others, You Must Care for Yourself

To celebrate National Family Caregivers Month, we at Health Power recognize and thank all those who have committed themselves to the important act of caring for someone else in their time of need.

Caregivers come in all forms: wives, husbands, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, best friends and neighbors. They all all heed the call to take on the challenging, and sometimes overwhelming, duty of supporting the health and wellness of another family member, or someone who is like a family member. At times, caring for the needs of someone else can come at great physical, emotional and financial sacrifice to caregivers themselves.

In order to successfully balance the demands of life and being a caregiver, it is important to remember that before you can care for someone else, you must first care for yourself. For those who have made the sacrifice to be a lifeline for others, looking after their own needs first can seem selfish and difficult to do.

A good caregiver is a healthy caregiver

Stay in good health: Caregiving can sometimes mean making lots of medical visits – Be sure one or more of those visits is to your own health professional. In other words, be sure to have at least yearly medical checkups to be sure you’re in the best health possible.

Make some “me time” daily: Be diligent in setting aside time every day just for you. Easy and inexpensive ways to achieve personal time include exercising, reading, indulging in a hobby, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Eliminate stress: Cut down on the amount of constant pressure weighing on you by getting organized; improving time management skills; keeping finances in order; keeping up with personal relationships; and, importantly, learning to say no to new responsibilities and stressors.

Build a support network: Learn to reach out for the help of family, friends and outside resources such as  adult care centers, volunteer organizations, support groups, and home health aides.

One thing to keep in mind as a caregiver is that you are never alone. Be sure to make use of the many resources available to assist you, such as:

The Family Caregiver Alliance provides information on national and local resources for those providing care for a range of conditions.

• The Office of Warrior Care Policy provides resources specifically for military caregivers, including a list of caregiver hotlines that offer help for various military services, and individual needs.

AARP Caregiving Center makes available a wealth of information including legal direction and insurance sources,  financial help, and crisis help.

• The Caregiver Action Network offers education, peer support and other helpful resources, whether you are a new or long-time caregiver.

• The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has a directory of local government and community assistance for elders and caregivers. The directory includes how to find counseling, advocates for the elderly, health insurance counseling and where to report possible abuse of the elderly.

Remember also that dealing with an illness or disability can be equally as stressful for those needing care as it is for the caregiver. Also, it’s important to remain mindful of when the stress is becoming too much. If you find that you or a loved-one are in crisis, you can reach out for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling the Caregiver’s Helpline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Visit the Health Power Aging Channel for additional information about caregiving.

Also Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®

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