Michele's Blog

Caregiver Self-Care

By Michele Scott

CARE-GIVING

Summer’s here, the weather is warm, flowers are blooming and outdoor activities are at a premium. However, enjoying family activities can be challenging if you don’t look and feel your best. It’s important to know and understand your body and its specific needs. As a Caregiver maintaining a healthy weight and well-being is crucial to meeting the 24/7 requirements of the job.  Only you know what your body responds to and you know how to make it work. Support, guidance and training in patient care and a mental-health check-up is suggested for all new caregivers.

SCHEDULING

The new mom schedules tasks and chores around baby’s sleep schedule. As a caregiver you can do the same thing. Packing a lunch or snack once your patient is sleep is easy. It’s a great time to plan a meal, fix the kids lunch or start dinner.  Freezable lunch bags keep food safe for 4-6 hours and insulated lunch boxes keep food hot or cold. Packing foods high in protein quench hunger, raise energy levels and make great snacks.

Exercise and fitness are important. There are thousands of exercises designed to target specific areas of the body.  Identify which exercises work best for you. (There are trainers who will come to your home, however there is a cost involved.) Decide how much time and money you will spend on fitness and if done in the home, schedule it when your patient is busy with an activity.

Drink lots of water! We hear it on radio, television, in newspapers and in magazines. We know 60% of the adult body is water and it is vital to our survival. We also know without proper hydration our bodies fail to work properly. Medical professionals say if you’re thirsty you’re not drinking enough water.. Researchers suggest alkaline water helps with digestion, promotes vitality, neutralizes acid in the bloodstream, improves energy and metabolism, eliminates toxins, and many advocates believe it contains antioxidants – anti-aging properties which cleanses the colon.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

Caregivers carry a heavy load and often the load is a patient twice their weight. If your patient has been bed-ridden for a while and you are new to caregiving, schedule a Home Helpers Home Care specialist to come in and train you in moving, turning, toileting and bathing the patient. An improper or false move can lead to serious injury. Controlling / handling patients with serious mental illnesses, seizures, dementia or Alzheimer’s requires specialized training. Home Helpers team of professionals are available to give you the tools needed for your toolbox to meet your patient’s specific needs. Don’t try to take this on alone. Untrained caregivers can suffer physical and psychological illnesses when guidance isn’t given or they fail to seek the support they need.

THE SUPER-HERO DILEMMA

A caregiver blogs on CaregiverWarrior.com: “I believe there is a superhero Caregiver dilemma all Caregiver Warriors face. So many of us become superwoman or superman caregivers, leaping tall buildings and anything else in our paths to take care of those we love. We show great courage and strength when it comes to others. However, when faced with self-love and self-care we sadly miss the mark.”  This blogger goes on to share the challenges she didn’t expect to face and those faced in bouncing back “to normal”.  

SUPPORT GROUPS

Find a group that works for you.  As our population ages and more baby-boomers and millennials find themselves in caregiver roles, caregiver support groups are popping up everywhere. Look for a group lead by a professional – medically trained caregiver. Instructors or group leaders should also be experienced in caregiving. Home Helpers Home Care can help you find a group and provide other local connections and resources.

NOT FOR EVERYONE

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, however it's not for everyone. Don't allow others to make you feel guilty for hiring a professional or bringing in help. Do what works best for yourself and your family - and will ensure your loved one gets the care they need.