Caregiving is a complicated job, especially when one is the primary caregiver and has never had to care for an aging parent or spouse before. The complication comes in learning how to go easy on yourself and not allowing your new responsibilities to consume you to the point of physical and emotional burnout. Here are 5 simple things you can do to make things easier for you:
1. Educate yourself.
Find out as much as you can about the diseases and issues that your parent or spouse may have. Knowledge is a powerful tool in coping and you might also consider joining and support group. These are both invaluable tools you will be thankful you acquired.
2. Take care of yourself.
Yes, I know you have heard this before, but do you really make the effort? Put time to yourself on the top of your list of priorities and stick to them. Take care to get enough exercise, eat properly and get enough sleep. Make sure you have time to participate in things you enjoy and reward yourself for a job well done.
3. Allow things to slide.
Get your priorities in order. Your health and the health of your loved ones is the most important thing. Housework and meal preparation may have to be done differently and you may have to slow down and not be such a perfectionist in such matters. Ge yourself permission not to be perfect and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle.
4. Learn and practice stress relieving techniques.
There are many ways to relieve stress and it would be wise to select one or two that you enjoy and then DO them. Some may enjoy Yoga, some may only have time for a short meditation and deep breathing exercises. No matter what you choose, take care to add them to your daily routine.
This is a tough one if you are usually the type of person who handles everything yourself. Bad idea! Learn to ask for help and then enlist it. Delegate chores and duties to family and friends. There is no reason you should do this alone and it is unhealthy for you to insist that you can do it. You might even find that others would love to help but just don’t know how. So make a list of things that friends, neighbours and family can do and call upon them to do them even if you think you can cope. There may come a time when you really need their help and it is useful to know that you have them well trained already.
Finally, once you have managed to organize your life so that you have time for yourself and adequate assistance to help you, take the time to enjoy the remaining time you have with your parent or spouse. You will cherish memories made today for a lifetime to come.
Article by: Rosemarie Charlton
Thistlecreek Health Care Ltd.