By Ava M. Stinnett
“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.” 1
More than 65 million family caregivers, 29% of the U.S. adult population, provide an average of 20 hours of care per week; some provide care around the clock.2 The physical and emotional toll can be overwhelming. So how can you nurture yourself as the caregiver?
1. Seek support from other caregivers. There are great benefits from knowing that there’s a network of other caregivers you can turn to for encouragement and problem-solving.
2. Accept offers of help. Let someone provide a weekly scheduled meal, pick up groceries, or accomplish another item from your to-do list.
3. Take care of your own health. You need rest, healthful food, plenty of water, and time away—whether it’s taking a walk, meeting a friend for a movie, or taking a nap.
4. Keep your own doctor appointments. Let your doctor know that you are a caregiver and be sure to mention any signs of depression (e.g., overeating or loss of appetite; difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions; feelings of hopelessness).
5. Be flexible. Why argue for 30 minutes to get your loved one to wear matching socks only to realize that you went out with your own shirt on backward? 3
6. Keep things in perspective and embrace humor whenever possible.
7. Realize that there is no “perfect” way to be a caregiver except by providing the most love and patience you can gather that day.
8. Look for helpful online resources, such as the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), the National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov), or A Place for Mom (http://aplaceformom.com).
9. Talk with your loved one’s doctor about when it might be necessary to move him or her to a facility that provides additional monitoring. While convincing your loved one may prove difficult, you want to do what’s best in the long term.
10. Remember that even if they don’t know who you are, you know who they are.
1. Speers, P., & Walker, T. (2013). The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love. CreateSpace.
2. Caregiving in the United States. (November 2009). National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP.
From Elder Care Issues (edited), http://eldercareissues.blogspot.com.
Happy New Year,
Jamie Lanners, Housing Manager