Caring for an elderly parent or loved one can truly be difficult especially when they have a neurodegenerative disorder like Alzheimers or dementia. Family caregivers who stumbled upon this post because they are simply looking for somebody to identify with — we are here to tell you that we identify and realize that your stress is very real. We also want you to know that you don't have to do this alone. If you have ever been on a plane when the air hostesses are giving out the safety warnings, you are always instructed in case of an emergency to put on your oxygen mask before you attempt to help anybody else. The same dynamic plays out when you are taking care of an elderly loved one. Here are 8 simple ways family caregivers can begin to take care of yourself.
- Find and join local support groups - All you need to do is go into Google and type in "caregiver support groups" or you can go to meetup.com and type in "caregivers". Knowing that there are other people going through the same experiences you are can be incredibly healing.
- Say "no" when it is appropriate and draw boundaries : You might have grown up saying "yes" to people a lot because you simply don't want to upset them. This is especially true when the people asking us to stretch completely out of what we can actually do are relatives.
- Family caregivers have the right to draw boundaries on what you can and cannot do in your capacity as a caregiver and say no to pressures that may come from other relatives who may want to manipulate a situation.
- Book Recommendation : Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud is THE book on how to set boundaries and not feel guilty about it. See if your local library has or you can purchase a copy from Amazon.
- Take a day or two off and don't feel guilty about it : Like we said earlier, you're not going to deliver great care if you are not taking excellent care of yourself. Once in a while, it is alright to take a day or two off from taking care of your loved one to just get some air or simply do nothing.
- Eat healthily : You body runs off the fuel you put into it and like any machine, if it is not great fuel, you are going to run into some hiccups. Choosemyplate.gov is a wonderful resource if you want to get started feeding your body right so you stay healthy and well-taken care of.
- Exercise : Apart from the obvious benefits exercise has for you, even if it is a 30-minute walk daily, it also releases neurochemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and have been reported to help with depression.
- Seek professional counseling help if need be : If speaking to a counselor is something that might help, please seek that help as soon as possible.
- Develop a creative outlet for yourself : What do you enjoy doing? Or maybe you have never had time to learn a creative hobby or be involved in events in your community or local establishments like your church? It might be time to learn that new hobby or get connected with events in your community and allow those creative juices to flow.
- Hire someone to help out for the day : Maybe, you are solely responsible for your loved one. How about hiring someone for a day or two to help out? And here at Effraim Home Care, the expert providers of senior care in Bryn Mawr, PA and nearby areas, we are excited to have highly trained caregivers who are willing to fill in the gap for you on the days you need it. It's as easy as giving us a call on 215-826-7422.
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