Northwest Indiana Senior Home Care Blog

Taking Care of Yourself as a Caregiver

By Bill Spearson

Taking Care of Yourself as a Caregiver

You might have heard the term “aging in place.” It refers to the elderly, dementia, and Alzheimer’s patients aging at home for as long as possible. There really is no place like home and most people want to stay surrounded by the comforts of home as long as their health allows them to do that.

Even patients with certain challenges can still age in place while depending on some outside help. But how do you make sure that you as a caregiver survive this task and get the rest you need as well? Read on!

Caregivers have come to replace a more medically assisted role during recent years.

So, just who is a caregiver and what do they do?

Caregivers have a unique role. They may be caring for a sick spouse, a disabled child, or even a convalescing or aging family member. It’s crucial to recognize your role so that you can receive the support that is available to you. While being a caregiver is very rewarding on many levels, sometimes the best reward is simply knowing the patent best, what makes them happy and how to give them more pleasurable days.

Don’t be surprised though, if a change of emotions come—this is totally normal. Feelings of frustration or even anger can surface when caregiving and it’s important to know how to cope with these feelings.

Caregivers may find they are resentful of the lack of formal schooling in a certain trade, they may feel lonely or isolated, and can often feel exhausted, especially if the patient won’t let anyone else help them.

How Can Caregivers Take Better Care of Themselves?

The National Institute on Aging gives ways to cope with the stress incurred when caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Here are a few of their suggestions:

Take help when offered. Create a list of things you would find helpful and allow the person who wants to help to choose something from that list. This may be something like going on a walk with the patient or helping prepare a meal.

Focus on what you can do. Feelings of guilt are normal but keep it in check. No one is perfect and there is no such thing as the perfect caregiver. Caregivers tend to be hard on themselves, so keep that in mind as you go through your day.

Find support. There are many options for support, both in social media and in groups you can be a part of. People in these groups understand the challenges of being a caregiver and can help with practical ideas. They may also have clever ideas when it comes to errands and transportation.

Stay healthy yourself. Drink lots of water, eat healthy food, and get plenty of exercise.

Get adequate sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical for good health. Stress, lack of sleep and inadequate exercise are the three biggest reasons for poor health among caretakers. Take the measures needed to get the rest you need so you can help your loved one properly.

Final Thoughts….

One of the most difficult parts of being a caregiver is leaving that loved one with someone else for the day or even overnight when you need to get away. However, it’s a necessary thing in order to stay sane and healthy yourself. Loved ones who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s often act like children when they are left with someone else. Just keep in mind that they will be fine and that it’s important for you to have a break.

There are also daycare centers who specialize in caring for your loved ones with mental impairments and keeping to the schedule they are used to.

There are many resources out there that help with isolation and frustration that often comes to caregivers. Please take advantage of them!

For more information on how to better care for yourself as a caretaker, please contact us today!

Home Helpers of Northwest Indiana is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, 24-hour live-in care, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Crown Point, Dyer, Granger, Griffith, Highland, La Porte, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Munster, Saint John, Schererville, Valparaiso, Hebron, Lowell, Portage, Demotte, Elkhart, Hannah, Kouts, La Crosse, New Carlisle, Osceola, Rolling Prairie, South Bend, Union Mills, and Westville, Indiana.