Caring for a loved one is rewarding, but it can also take a toll on your mind, body, relationships, and even finances. Those who don’t actively manage the stresses that come with this type of responsibility often reach burnout and become depressed. The American Psychological Association reports that those who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than non-caregivers of the same age.
Taking steps to avoid or deal with these types of feelings will not only prevent you from becoming resentful towards the person you’re caring for, but also ensure that you can continue to provide adequate care for your loved one while staying healthy and happy yourself.
Here are five important tips for preventing stress as a family caregiver.
As a family caregiver, you have double the work and responsibilities. Setting small, achievable weekly goals will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that the important tasks in your life are still being taken care of.
A common sign of caregiver stress is withdrawing away from your social group. It may seem like you don’t have the time, but making an effort to stay in touch with your friends and family will keep you from slipping into depression.
Ask for and accept help.
Never feel guilty for asking for help—respite care is essential to avoiding exhaustion. So reach out to another family member, friend, or from a trusted home care provider like Home Care by ALTRES Medical. And when someone offers their assistance, accept it.
Take a break
Since caring for an aging or disabled loved one often means living in the same house together, it’s important to take time away from your home for at least 30 minutes every day. Use this time to do something that you enjoy or that helps you relax.
Take care of your health.
It’s natural for family caregivers to become so involved in taking care of their loved one that they allow their own needs to be put aside—even when it comes to their health. Don’t neglect your regular doctor’s visits, and make an added effort to eat well and get enough exercise and sleep.
As a family caregiver, it is never selfish to focus on your own needs–in fact, it’s an important part of the job. Taking time away from your caregiving duties and focusing on yourself will make you a better caregiver in the long run.