Caregivers Must Also Care for Themselves

by -

Elderly Woman and Nurse Holding Hands

For many people, becoming a caregiver wasn't a choice but a necessity. Caregivers often have full-time jobs in addition to their caregiving responsibilities. The stress of caring for a loved one is often made worse by the emotional burden of watching your dependent spouse or parent deteriorate due to dementia or another illness.

If caregiving has left you drained, take steps to regain your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Body

Make time for physical activity every day. It could be as simple as going for an early-morning walk or working out with a home workout video while your loved one is taking a nap. You can also find a primary care provider who can take care of both your and your loved one's medical needs so you don't fall behind on your own routine screenings and exams.

Mind

Up to half of all family caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of depression in yourself, including loss of appetite, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

See a counselor or join a caregiver support group to talk through your feelings and find support.

Spirit

Caring for an aging family member can trigger negative feelings, such as guilt. You may have low self-esteem and think you're not doing a good enough job.

Make a conscious effort to identify negative emotions and replace them with positive self-talk. Remind yourself you're doing the best job you can and that you deserve to take breaks.

Visit UnityPoint at Home for more information about our services.