Make sure your own needs are met as well as your loved ones.
As family caregivers, often our primary focus is on doing everything we can to help our loved ones remain as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible. However, we often do this at the expense of our own well-being. We become so overwhelmed by our multiple tasks and roles that our ability to cope and care for ourselves becomes diminished. The negative effects of this increased level of stress can include:
poor eating habits
failure to exercise
failure to stay in bed when ill, and
postponement of or failure to make medical appointments.
We’ve all heard of the rule on an airplane: If the oxygen mask drops down in front of you, you should put yours on first and then help others with their oxygen masks. What is the reason for this? It is because we are better able to help others when we first take care of ourselves. This remains true in the context of care-giving. We are better able to help our loved ones, when we first make sure that we are caring for ourselves. The Family-Caregiver Alliance has provided a list of tips for self-care for caregivers. These tips include:
Learning stress reduction techniques, including: knowing the warning signs, identifying the sources, identifying what you can and cannot change, and taking action.
Attend to your own healthcare needs.
Get proper rest and nutrition.
Take time off without feeling guilty.
Participate in pleasant, nurturing activities.
Seek and accept the support of others.
Seek supportive counseling when you need it, or talk to a trusted counselor or friend.
Identify and acknowledge your feelings.
Change the negative way you may view some situations.
Set personal goals.
Remember, it’s not selfish to make sure that your own needs are being met. Your health and well-being are just as important as the health and well-being of your loved one.
Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.