A brand new year is right around the corner, bringing plenty of opportunities for a fresh start. If you’re the sole caregiver for an aging parent or loved one, now is a great time to take a step back and ask yourself, “How am I really doing?”
All too often, caregivers put their own needs and desires last. Over time, this can lead to stress, burnout, and other negative health effects. As a caregiver, it’s important to understand that caring for yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one.
This year, make a commitment to take care of yourself first. After all, the more your own needs are met, the better the caregiver you can be to your loved one.
Are you ready to make self-care a priority? Here are some New Year’s goals we recommend, along with tips for achieving them.
Look out for your health
When you’re caring for someone else, it’s easy to forget about your own health. Be sure you’re exercising regularly, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep. Stay on top of health care appointments and screenings, including eye exams, dental cleanings, and dermatologist check-ups. Remember, mental health is as important as physical health. Practice meditation or breathing exercises and consider talking with a counselor or therapist.
Take time for what you love
It can be difficult to step away from the responsibilities of caregiving, but we all need breaks to rest, relax, and recharge. Each week, do something just for you. It could be reading a book, getting a manicure, catching up with a friend over coffee, or trying a hobby like ceramics or scrapbooking. Taking time for what brings you joy isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for your wellbeing.
Don’t go it alone
You don’t have to face the challenges of caregiving alone. Joining a caregiver support group can help you manage the emotional side of caregiving, allowing you to express your feelings and receive advice from others in similar situations. Sometimes, just being surrounded by others who understand the stress and struggles of caregiving can help you feel at ease. If you can’t attend an in-person meeting, try an online support group. You can also find groups focused on specific health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by caregiving for an older loved one, it might be time to consider a move to an assisted living community. Assisted living communities are designed for older adults who need a little extra assistance with daily tasks like grooming, dressing, eating, and medication management. With dedicated care professionals and nurses on-site 24 hours a day, assisted living offers the ideal combination of care and independence, bringing greater peace of mind to older adults and their families.