Even if you only provide care for a loved one on a part-time basis, you know that the undertaking can be stressful. Strategies for coping with caregiver stress early on are essential. You need to find time to rest and nurture yourself or you may find yourself facing both emotional and physical side effects of long-term stress. Not only are you facing the stress of providing physical care, but you are also dealing with a type of loss of the loved one you knew in the past who has now become dependent.
Here are some ways to cope with the changes caregiving may throw at you.
Take Time for Yourself First.
When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant will tell you to put on your own oxygen mask in case of an emergency, before you assist anybody else. This is because you cannot help others unless you have helped yourself first. Eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and treat yourself to a fun evening every once in awhile.
Communicate While Building a Support System.
Never be ashamed to ask for help. If brothers, sisters, parents, and other loved ones do not know that you need help, they cannot offer it. You may just need to vent to somebody who cares, or perhaps it would help you to have somebody come over and cook dinner once or twice a week. Let people know what you need.
Seek Mental Health Care for Yourself.
The power of weekly or bi-weekly therapy becomes quickly apparent when you begin regular sessions. Therapists and psychiatrists are often well-versed in stress management techniques, especially if you find a professional who specializes in this area. If you yourself are an elderly caregiver, make sure to find an appropriate therapist that is fully acquainted with that situation and that you can relate to.
Hire a Home Health Aide.
In her book, To Survive Caregiving: A Daughter’s Experience, A Doctor’s Advice, Dr. Cheryl Woodson describes her own experiences with caregiver stress. One of her biggest pieces of advice is not to forget that you have needs. You cannot be Superman and do it all, and there is no shame in hiring help when you need it. Professional home health aides can provide excellent, compassionate care for your loved ones.
Caregiving can be burdensome when you are stressed out and struggling to balance that role with your life, but when you are refreshed and taking care of yourself, it can be a wonderful way to bond with your loved one. For more ideas on how to care for yourself or your caregiving friend, contact us.
At the David York Agency, we are dedicated to providing the resources, advice, and high-quality home healthcare services that can make caregiving more manageable. For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one and the support you need to manage.