It may seem unrealistic to suggest that you care for yourself while caring for a senior loved one. However, if you want to remain well and continue your caregiving duties for the long-term, you really have no choice. Caregiver burnout is very real and can significantly impact your ability to care for a loved one. Here are some realistic tips on how to avoid caregiver burnout
and care for yourself while caring for aging parents.
Caring for yourself is all about finding the tiny moments during the day when you can do something for yourself. It’s not about taking a day to go to the spa or taking a vacation. It is about finding small things that you can do on a regular basis to calm and refresh yourself. Read the tips below and adopt the ones that work for your schedule and individual caregiving situation.
Nap when your loved one naps.
There are many things that you probably want to do when your aging parent takes a nap like laundry, dishes, and housework. However, those things can wait. Take a nap somewhere near them, within earshot, and give yourself a chance to re-energize.
Listen to your favorite music.
If you sit with your loved one while they watch daytime television, use earphones to listen to your favorite music. You can still smile at them and talk with them during commercials, but while their favorite show is on you can listen to music to relax. It is one of those tiny moments that you can use to reduce anxiety and induce calm.
Stop at your favorite coffee shop on the way home.
Build an extra 20 minutes into your schedule. It may seem impossible at first, but if you plan it, it will happen. A friend or neighbor can pick up the kids at soccer practice occasionally. You can leave you parents ten minutes earlier and arrive home ten minutes later. Stop at your favorite coffee shop. Order something you love to drink. Sit by the window, take deep breaths and enjoy the time you have set aside just for you. It will be worth the effort it takes to squeeze in the time.
Practice deep breathing.
Caregiving is filled with pressure, anxiety, and worry. Some days you may feel as though your chest is going to explode from the grind. That is anxiety and stress and the best way to combat it is with deep breathing. You can do it while sitting in a chair, or in your car at a red light. Take a breath so deep that you can feel the bottom of your lungs and then exhale it through your mouth. Take ten deep breaths in a row. The fresh oxygen you inhale will improve your lungs, your heart, and your mind.
Regardless of the temperature or the weather, dress appropriately and go outside. Walk around the house, up and down the driveway or the street. Fresh air does wonders for the brain and will help to relieve stress. If you can’t leave your aging parents inside, dress them appropriately and take them outside with you. Even if it is raining, the fresh air and the smell of rain is hugely beneficial for both of you.
It may be the last resort, but take a day off.
When all else fails and the pressure of caring for aging parents is weighing you down, schedule time off. An afternoon or a day away will give provide welcome relief. You can ask friends or family members to step in and temporarily assume caregiving duties. If that isn’t possible, hire a professional caregiver for the day. They are trained to work with seniors like your parents who may resist caregivers or a stranger in the house. They know how to develop relationships and put aging parents at ease.
Support for caregiver burnout
cannot be overlooked, it is a necessity. You also need to practice self-care. These small steps can help to reduce your anxiety and stress and ensure a healthier future for you. During the month of May we're honoring professional and family caregivers around the nation and we’ll be providing respite care grants to family caregivers across the U.S, to learn more or apply, please visit: https://homecareassistance.com/moveforminds
Have you found ways to take care of yourself in the small moments of the day? If so, we would love to hear from you so that we can share your success with other caregivers.
our elderly care service page for more information.