The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates 65.7 million Americans (or 29% of the adult U.S. population) served as family caregivers for a relative who is older, ill or has some kind of disability.
We know that as a care partner for an older adult or a person with a disability, you pour your heart and soul into providing care, support and companionship. But what about you? How are you caring for yourself? Because self-care isn’t just a buzzword, it’s essential!
Here are some tips for our care partners to help you maintain your well-being while providing exceptional care to your loved ones.
- Prioritize Self-Care: Self-care is necessary to maintaining your physical and emotional health. Make time for activities you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk or enjoying a hobby. Taking care of yourself allows you to recharge and be a better care partner.
- Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to lean on friends, family members and support groups for help and emotional support when you need it. Caregiving can be isolating, but you’re not alone. Sharing your experiences and feelings with others who understand can be immensely comforting, even if it just on a text chain with your friends!
- Accept Help: It’s okay to accept assistance from others (and more than okay to ask for help). Whether it’s family members, friends or volunteers, welcoming help can lighten your load and give you much-needed respite. Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada provides five hours of free respite care help each week. Find out how we can help you at neighbornv.org/what-we-do/community-care/respite-care/
- Educate Yourself About Your Loved One’s Condition: They say knowledge is power. Understanding your loved one’s needs, treatment options and potential challenges can help you provide better care and make informed decisions.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep are essential for your well-being. A healthy lifestyle helps you have the energy and strength required for caregiving.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Know your limitations and don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing your best, and that’s commendable.
- Communicate Effectively: Effective communication is key to understanding your loved one’s needs and providing the best care possible. Listen attentively, ask questions, and express your own thoughts and concerns openly. You might also look into classes or support groups to help you learn communication techniques that are designed for people with disabilities, memory issues or older adults.
- Keep a Journal: Maintaining a caregiving journal can be therapeutic. Write down your thoughts, experiences, and any changes in your loved one’s condition. It can help you track progress while also providing insights into your own emotions.
- Stay Organized: We know that the calendar can get out of hand! Caregiving often means managing multiple medical appointments each month, a series of daily medications, and then there’s all that paperwork! Staying organized is key. Create a system that works for you, whether it’s a calendar on the fridge, a checklist in a notebook, or the latest digital tools. Keeping everything in order will help you feel a little more in control.
- Plan for Respite Care: Respite care is an invaluable resource for caregivers. It provides you with much-needed breaks to recharge. If you or someone you know is in need of respite care, please fill out an interest form, or contact us at People@NeighborNV.org.
Your well-being matters! You’re doing a great job and we’re here to support you every step of the way!