New Year’s Resolutions–a common concept in our culture, with many vowing to break habits they see as negative. For those devoted to caring for a loved one at home, however, the most important resolution they can make is for their own self-care. Too often, caregivers get caught up in the never-ending duties of caring for their loved one at the sacrifice of their own physical and psychological well-being.
In a recent Alzheimer’s Association study, 35% of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias reported that their health had worsened directly because of their care responsibilities. This is compared to 19% of those caring for elders without dementia.
Caring for a loved one on a long-term basis has its ups and downs. Naturally, it often feels good to help others. Being caregiver for a parent is often a mixed bag, as it comes with the emotional weight of your lifetime relationship, but there is also the satisfaction of knowing you are caring for them as they once cared for you.
Whatever the situation, most caregivers experience some of the following:
- ~Worry or doubt about the quality of care you’re providing
- ~Confusion about where to turn for help
- ~A sense of loss because the person you care for has changed so much
- ~Stress over managing everything along with your other responsibilities
Caregiving is never easy, but it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are many resources available, including family and friends, health care professionals, and community service organizations.
When we have more to handle than we are used to, our bodies feel stress. Some stress is normal and even useful, helping us to react quickly when necessary. But if our bodies are stressed too often or for too long, our health can suffer. Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. Talking to a friend or family member may help, but it may be best to see a professional counselor.
The most effective ways to relieve stress are different for everyone. See which of these strategies work for you:
- ~Exercise—One of the best ways to manage stress. Try a brisk walk or follow a short exercise video, easily found on YouTube.
- ~Write—It can be helpful to write in a journal about things that are bothering you.
- ~Let your feelings out—Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to.
- ~Practice Relaxation—Breathing exercises, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, or Tai Chi can be helpful.
- ~Laugh—Find movies, TV shows, or audio recordings that you find really funny… laughter is healing to the body and mind.
Support groups are a great way to start on the path to self-care. It can make a world of difference just to talk with other caregivers and find that you are not alone.
For one-on-one case management, contact our Family Services Manager, Kim Larsen: 805-969-0859
For your New Year’s Resolution, think about one step you can take this year to practice self-care, and write it down. Here’s to a fresh new year in 2019!
Regular support groups offered by Alzheimer’s Association are held at both Friendship Centers. Pre-registration is required—contact Marcy Maler at 805-892-4259 x111 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a complete list of support groups offered by Alzheimer’s Association in the area, click here.
Information for this article taken from Kaiser Permanente resources.