Senior caregiving can be an incredibly stressful and exhausting endeavor. Long-term caregiving can cause you to lose sleep and become burned out, fatigued, and irritated. Some senior caregivers may make the mistake of thinking that focusing on their own well-being is selfish, but it’s actually the opposite. The best way to ensure you provide optimal care to another is to also take care of yourself. Read on below for some self-care tips that will help you avoid caregiver burnout.
1. Make Your Own Health a Priority
To start, get enough sleep at night. You’re not going to be able to provide the best level of care if you are sleep deprived. Also, be mindful of eating enough throughout the day to stay nourished and fueled. When you’re taking care of someone else, it’s easy to not even notice when you haven’t eaten in a while. And be sure to eat healthy, instead of just grabbing whatever is convenient.
Stay hydrated too. Regularly drinking water helps keep your mind sharp and focused. Don’t overdo it on caffeinated drinks because you assume you need endless energy. Caffeine can actually dehydrate the body.
2. Keep Your Body Moving
Even taking 20 to 30 minutes for a walk can be a great method of self-care. Exercise reignites your energy, makes you more alert and focused, and is another way of keeping healthy. Regular exercise can also help you to get the necessary amount of sleep to perform your senior caregiver duties as well as possible.
You don’t necessarily need to be running marathons or lifting weights. Take the time to try a type of exercise like yoga or tai chi. These activities are beneficial for both your mind and your body and can also do wonders to help reduce stress. Along with these forms of exercise, also try meditation and different breathing techniques for relaxation.
3. See If You Can Find a Supportive Senior Caregiver Community
Definitely make sure to keep your friends and family in the know. Don’t hesitate to ask for a sympathetic ear and to seek out their advice and support. But for extra help, it’s always nice to be able to confide in those who can relate to the same struggles you’re going through. Not to mention that others with significant experience being senior caregivers can provide you with plenty of helpful advice. You can usually find one of these caregiver support groups through certain organizations and hospitals. If you’re in a hospital, the chaplains can be very supportive and helpful.
Another option, which some senior caregivers may not even realize is available, is respite care. This is available at many assisted living centers, including the Mission of Agua Fria. It allows senior caregivers to give themselves a break to recharge. You can turn to respite care for a number of different reasons. You might utilize it if you have surgery for yourself, or you just need time off, or you go on vacation. Respite care can also be set up for different periods of time, from hours to days. You can find out more information on respite care and the Mission at Agua Fria on our website.