Spouses, adult children and other family members frequently take on caregiving duties when times get tough. In too many cases, those loved ones find the experience of providing care to be isolating and difficult.
About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months; about 15.7 million adult family caregivers are caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
When caring for another, it’s so easy to forget about yourself. We’ve put together some tips on how caregivers can manage their stress while keeping their sanity.
Let go of guilt – Many caregivers experience guilt as they wonder if they’re doing all they could for their loved one. Those feelings of perfectionism and the need to provide the best memories ever for family members can weigh heavily on a person. Understand that as much as you may want — and work hard — to provide undivided attention to your loved one, you cannot control everything. To lift that emotional weight off your chest and enjoy the quality time with your loved one, let go of any feelings of guilt.
Find support when needed – Caregivers are selfless individuals who sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their loved ones. To keep yourself sane and healthy, it’s critical to seek help when you need it. Ask friends and family members for a respite. Join a support group in the community. Even if you learn nothing new, it is an opportunity to share with those who are going through the same challenges as you and a reminder that you are not alone.
Practice self care – Breathe in, breathe out. Sometimes caregivers forget to do the simplest of things. Elevated stress levels and lack of rest result in burn out. To continue to provide the best possible care for your loved one, it’s important that you also take care of your own needs. Techniques like visualization, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are simple ways to help relieve stress. Take a bath, plan a spa day – whatever it is, you deserve it.\
Consider a senior living community – A senior living community is just that, a community. Giving up caregiving responsibilities will allow you to be a family member again and not just a caretaker. Your loved ones will make more friends and connections at their highest level of function and have access to high quality care when a crisis does occur. Approach the issue respectfully and communicate that you have your loved one’s best interests at heart. The experts at Elder Care Alliance are available to help you navigate the process and offer recommendations.