For the Caregiver: Tips to Stay Healthy

Reviewed Oct 1, 2018

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Two years ago Barbara and husband Mike were starting to enjoy their empty-nest lifestyle when Barbara’s 85-year-old father, Jon, had a stroke. Jon moved into the couple’s home, and Barbara welcomed the chance to “give back to a man who has given me so much.” But over time, Barbara began to lose sight of her own needs. Consequently, Barbara is stressed, overly tired, and resentful, and the added strain has made it harder for her to handle her own health concerns.

Barbara’s story shows the importance of caring for oneself while caring for another. Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals, and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors, and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective, and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings—such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy, and anger—that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker, or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family, and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools, and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have
trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life—friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

Resources

National Alliance for Caregiving

Eldercare Locator

Family Alliance Caregiver Alliance

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Two years ago Barbara and husband Mike were starting to enjoy their empty-nest lifestyle when Barbara’s 85-year-old father, Jon, had a stroke. Jon moved into the couple’s home, and Barbara welcomed the chance to “give back to a man who has given me so much.” But over time, Barbara began to lose sight of her own needs. Consequently, Barbara is stressed, overly tired, and resentful, and the added strain has made it harder for her to handle her own health concerns.

Barbara’s story shows the importance of caring for oneself while caring for another. Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals, and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors, and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective, and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings—such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy, and anger—that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker, or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family, and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools, and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have
trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life—friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

Resources

National Alliance for Caregiving

Eldercare Locator

Family Alliance Caregiver Alliance

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Two years ago Barbara and husband Mike were starting to enjoy their empty-nest lifestyle when Barbara’s 85-year-old father, Jon, had a stroke. Jon moved into the couple’s home, and Barbara welcomed the chance to “give back to a man who has given me so much.” But over time, Barbara began to lose sight of her own needs. Consequently, Barbara is stressed, overly tired, and resentful, and the added strain has made it harder for her to handle her own health concerns.

Barbara’s story shows the importance of caring for oneself while caring for another. Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals, and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors, and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective, and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings—such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy, and anger—that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker, or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family, and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools, and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have
trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life—friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

Resources

National Alliance for Caregiving

Eldercare Locator

Family Alliance Caregiver Alliance

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2020 Beacon Health Options, Inc.