If you’re a family caregiver or informal caregiver, you know the role can be intense. You may be working, caring for a loved one, and giving attention to children and other family members. It can be hard to care for an individual with cognitive decline or whose health status may change daily. Unlike paid caregivers, your duties may include personal care, meal prep, and housekeeping. Change is constant and stressful, so self-care is vital for caregivers.
Here are some tips from Dr. Stacy to help caregivers give their best while also taking care of themselves.
The age range for caregivers is 45 to 64 years old, so many are also working and raising children. Multiple obligations can cause caregivers to neglect personal health. They don’t have time to keep medical appointments or exercise regularly. They may have given up on socializing. Unpaid caregivers often experience poor health and are also at increased risk for depression. As a caregiver, it’s essential you adopt behaviors to protect your health and well-being.
A caregiver who fails to keep health care appointments may develop conditions that endanger their health. The stress of going in many directions can lead to hypertension, a silent killer. Untreated hypertension or high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. The only way caregivers can know whether they have health issues is to visit a health care provider regularly for checkups.
Caregivers typically ensure those around them are well-fed, but they frequently eat hurriedly or miss meals. Eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, supplies the body with the energy and nutrients needed to function and fight disease. Keeping nutritious snacks on hand, Sport+Store Stainless Steel Water Bottle” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>drinking lots of water, and preparing foods like soups and stews in advance can make it easier to eat well and also offer more time to enjoy food and conversation with your loved one.
Exercise is planned physical activities that help an individual reach a fitness goal. Physical activity includes unplanned activities that promote health and fitness. It can be challenging to get to a fitness center several days each week, but there are alternatives. Digging weeds from a garden, washing a car, and walking the dog are other ways to be active. When approached vigorously, these activities burn calories and fat while strengthening joints and muscles. Taking a walk with a friend or neighbor is an excellent way to get a workout, relieve stress, socialize, and avoid isolation.
A fitness tracker or smartwatch makes it easy to keep up your exercise or physical activity efforts. You can track your heart rate during workouts, as well as calories burned, and set goals to help you get the most of your physical activity. Maintain your smartwatch by replacing the band, and add a screen protector to keep it easy to read and unblemished.
Becoming a healthier caregiver will benefit not only you but also your loved one. Be a better caregiver by taking care of yourself first. Remember: like your clients, you deserve to live your best life.