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Stress Less, Care More: Vital Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

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June 17, 2024
woman tired after caregiving

The number of people in the U.S. with disabilities continues to rise, making the role of caregiving more important than ever. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 60% of Americans will require help with daily tasks such as getting dressed, preparing meals or transportation to appointments at some point. 

Disabilities can impact children as well as adults but there is no doubt that the need for more caregivers is linked to an aging baby boomer population. Many of those in need depend on loved ones or professional caregivers in their homes, while others receive care in group homes or nursing homes. 

Caregiving Is a Demanding Role

Regardless of the setting, the role of caregiver is a demanding one and not without risks. The stress of caring for a disabled patient can take a toll on even the most experienced caregiver, causing exhaustion, anxiety, depression and even physical problems. That’s why self-care is critical for any caregiver. Giving the best care for a patient or loved one is only possible when the caregiver practices proper self-care. The following includes information and resources for caregivers, as well as tips on how caregivers can apply the critical self-care they need.

⚠️ Signs a Caregiver is Experiencing Stress

Keeping up with the daily demands of caring for an elderly or disabled loved one often leaves caregivers too busy to realize how stress is impacting them. It’s important that caregivers be aware of the symptoms of stress and address them early to avoid serious health consequences. Here are some warning signs:

  • Having trouble sleeping and feeling exhausted
  • Feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed
  • Losing contact with others and not participating in activities the caregiver used to enjoy
  • Feeling angry or easily irritated
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches or other aches and pains
  • Neglecting daily tasks such as preparing healthy meals, or skipping showers and exercise
  • Relying on alcohol or prescription drugs to feel better

💡 Self-care Tips for Caregivers

Caregiver “burnout” is not just a cliché, it is a real consequence of the stress associated with caring for a loved one or patient over a long period of time. Elderly loved ones suffering from debilitating conditions (physical and especially mental), can take a heavy toll on caregivers. That’s why self-care should be established early on – before the stress feels overwhelming or the caregiver’s physical health is compromised. Here are some essential self-care habits that can not only relieve caregiver stress, but help make caregivers more effective in the care they provide.

✔️ Communicate on a regular basis

Learning to communicate effectively with the patient as well as loved ones, doctors and therapists will help caregivers become advocates for the patient. Regular communication can also relieve stress by helping the caregiver stay on top of the patient’s condition. 

✔️ Take planned caregiving breaks

Caregivers shouldn’t hesitate to ask a friend or family member to fill in while they take a break. It’s also a good idea, if possible, to hire someone to take over for a few hours a week so that the primary caregiver can count on periods of respite from their duties.

✔️ Pursue interests and hobbies

Taking care of a loved one shouldn’t prevent a caregiver from pursuing their individual interests. Taking time to participate in an activity or hobby can keep caregivers from feeling overwhelmed by demanding daily tasks.

✔️ Get support when needed

Caregivers who feel sad, depressed or lonely as a result of their caretaking duties should not feel uncomfortable about getting help. Join a caregiving support group or seek the advice of a therapist to gain understanding and a perspective from others with similar experiences.

✔️ Get plenty of sleep

People often don’t realize how much sleep they need and it becomes doubly important for those who have a demanding role such as caregiving. Although stress can make getting enough sleep difficult, it’s important for caregivers to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine and silencing the TV and phone are often helpful.

✔️ Eat healthy

This may sound like a standard adage that’s hard to comply with, but it’s vitally important for both mood and health. Caregivers seek to provide nutritious meals for loved ones or patients in their care, but may neglect their own need for healthy eating. Caregivers should strive to include healthy food options in their diets such as fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and also drink plenty of water.  

✔️ Keep up with health needs

Caregivers who are conscientiously taking care of their loved one’s health may neglect their own. It’s vitally important that caregivers maintain their own health too. It’s why airlines always instruct parents that if an emergency happens, they need to put the oxygen mask on themselves first and then help their children. In other words, if the caregiver isn’t healthy – it’s hard to see to the needs of the loved one. 

✔️ Strive to accept caregiving challenges

It’s important for caregivers to understand that the job is challenging by nature, and that feeling sad or depressed is often a result. This is especially true for caregivers taking care of loved ones. But it is also imperative that the caregiver accept the loved one’s condition and the prognosis provided by healthcare professionals. This acceptance may also free caregivers to seek the support they need.

✔️ Keep up-to-date on supplies

Keeping enough of the supplies the loved one or patient needs is important for helping keep stress at bay. Caregivers should keep plenty of supplies on hand to best serve the care recipient. Honest Medical Supply offers a wide range of health and wellness products at economical prices and delivered with speed and efficiency. Visit HonestMed.com and search our catalog. You may even consider enrolling in our autoship delivery service to save money on repeat orders.

✔️ Be aware of family caregiver benefits

The job of a family caregiver is recognized in many states, allowing the caregiver to receive benefits. Honest Medical covered these benefits on a state-by-state basis in a previous article, “Caregiving that Counts: A Guide to Earning While Supporting Your Loved Ones.”

caregiving article

💜 HonestMed Is Here to Support Caregivers

HonestMed understands the challenges of caring for a disabled or elderly loved one. Caregiving takes both an emotional and physical toll, making self-care critically important for all caregivers. HonestMed’s goal is to help caregivers provide the best care possible while easing the stress on both caregivers and loved ones with a wide range of health and wellness products that are economically priced. Visit our website at www.HonestMed.com and find the caregiver tools and products you and your loved ones need. Learn more by speaking to an HonestMed Care Specialist at (833) 933-2323. We’re here to provide you with product knowledge, support, and expertise to ensure you get the right products for your unique needs and budget. You can also browse our Honest Ideas for published articles with valuable tips on caregiving and more.

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