Family Caregiving 101: Taking Care of Yourself First

Family Caregiving

Family caregiving can take a toll on individuals who care for loved ones.

When was the last time you met a friend for lunch? Had an annual physical? Engaged in a hobby you enjoy? If you’re a family caregiver, your answer may be, “I don’t remember.” While the goal of all family caregivers is to provide a loved one with the very best care possible, providing care week in and week out takes a toll on family caregivers.

If you’re like many family caregivers, you may be juggling responsibilities on many fronts – from a full-time career to caring for aging parents, and possibly children at home, too. Family caregivers are known to suffer from sleep deprivation, have poor eating habits, neglect exercising routinely, and postpone medical appointments.

In order for family caregivers to be effective in their role, it’s vitally important that they care for themselves, and doing so begins with a few easy steps:

Manage Stress

Stress is detrimental to both physical and mental health and it’s important to make changes before becoming overwhelmed.

  • Recognize signs of stress: irritability, sleep issues and forgetfulness
  • Identify what triggers your stress: the inability to say no, family disagreements, fear of the unknown
  • Determine activities that can help reduce your stress: exercise, journaling, having a set time each week to have lunch with a friend, meditation or prayer
  • Take action: by identifying points of stress and what you have control over, it’s easier to determine what changes can be made to daily routines in order to help alleviate the stress

Ask for and Accept Help

Do you have friends or relatives who have asked if they can help, but you’ve felt hesitant to accept their offers? Asking for and accepting help is not a weakness, and welcoming an extra set of hands can have a significant impact on your wellbeing.

  • Consider your daily and weekly tasks and create a list so that others can pitch in and share in your caregiving responsibilities – from yard work to visiting the loved one you’re caring for, there are endless ways others can help.
  • If a friend or relative has a particular talent or interest, ask him or her to help in an area that highlights that talent. Perhaps your nephew already helps mow the lawn at your brother’s house, or maybe a friend is an excellent cook.
  • When asking for assistance use “I” statements to make requests. “I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. Would you stay with Grandpa at 1 pm for two hours?” Using “I” statements emphasizes the importance of the request.

Another way family caregivers can alleviate stress and take much deserved time to care for themselves, is by partnering with a trusted home care agency like Visiting Care Giving Services. Let our compassionate care team design a customized plan of care, as unique as your loved one. We can help with:

  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Personal care needs such as bathing, grooming and dressing
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Incontinence care
  • Medication reminders
  • Respite care
  • And so much more

If you’re looking for help as a Chesterfield senior advocate and caregiver, contact Visiting Care Giving Services today at (636) 493-9058 and let us know how we can help you continue to provide exceptional care for a senior you love within Chesterfield and the surrounding areas.