8 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Dec 18th, 2018

Providing full- or part-time care for a loved one managing mental health challenges like depression, anxiety or the behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be overwhelming. Nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spend more than 41 hours per week providing care.

Caregiving often involves long hours managing medications, providing physical support, navigating complex health conditions and juggling other family and career obligations. With all these responsibilities, it can be easy for caregivers to experience burnout and forget to take care of themselves, too.

If you are caring for a loved one, consider these tips to support your own mental health:

  1. Take a Class: Learn about what to expect as a caregiver by enrolling in online caregiver courses from organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association. A few of their classes include financial planning, disease stage development and communication strategies.
  2. Make a Plan: Establishing routines is essential to caring for an aging individual managing behavioral health challenges. Using a planner can be helpful in tracking daily schedules and medication times.
  3. Use Your Imagination: Plan activities both of you can enjoy. Watch a happy film to improve your mood or take a short stroll around a familiar park to get your hearts pumping. Or, stimulate your loved one’s mind by trying a new hobby you can do together safely.
  4. Learn to Relax: Squeeze in a moment to read or binge watch your favorite show while your loved one is in a doctor’s appointment or resting. Relaxation techniques like meditation and visualization can also ease stress.
  5. Treat Yourself: Caring for an aging loved one is difficult. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Plan a spa day or a night out with friends while another family member, close friend or nurse cares for your loved one.
  6. Join a Support Group: Finding an in-person or online group of like-minded people navigating the same challenge can be helpful for crowdsourcing answers to difficult questions and providing a judgment-free space to vent.
  7. Explore Community Resources: Supporting your loved one while maintaining your lifestyle can be trying but you don’t have to do it alone. Research local organizations that offer resources like adult day programs, meal delivery services and senior ride programs.
  8. Determine Your Care Assistant: Sixty percent of family caregivers have a job outside caregiving. Enlist other family members or trusted friends to step in when you can’t be in two places at once. If your loved one is prone to wandering at night, find someone who can cover your shift when you need to rest.

Finally, keep in mind that you’re trying your best and your loved one is grateful, even if they can’t express it. Should behavioral symptoms become unmanageable, seek assistance from an experienced geriatric mental health treatment provider like Oceans Behavioral Hospital.

Oceans is passionate about helping older adults and seniors experiencing depression, anxiety, behavioral side effects of early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and other mental health issues. Utilizing proven, innovative and progressive therapies, Oceans’ qualified professionals strive to promote long-term wellness through a range of inpatient and outpatient psychiatric counseling and treatment options.

Resources Referenced:

https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving

http://caregiveraction.org/resources/caregiver-statistics

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

 

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