When you’re a family caregiver, you’re going to experience stress. You’ll have good days and bad days. You’ll wonder how can you keep doing this when you feel you’re at the end of your rope. This is all normal. To overcome some of the emotional strain, you need to take time every day for these four things.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the care your parents need. Are you turning down offers to go out with friends, join your partner for a date night, or go to your kids’ functions? You need to make sure you’re still socializing with your friends and family.
The Right Amount of Sleep
It can be hard to get enough sleep when you’re caring for certain health conditions. If your parent has Alzheimer’s, the risk of wandering can make it hard to really settle in for a full night’s sleep. You can’t ignore your body’s need for sleep, however.
You need to work with other family members or an elderly care agency to provide care in shifts. While someone else is on duty, turn on a fan for white noise, spray the room with a relaxing scent like lavender, and settle in for as much sleep as you can get. The goal is seven to eight hours.
It’s tempting to skip a meal when you’re busy. That will mess with your blood sugar levels. It can make you feel drained. It can also make it hard to focus on the task at hand if your stomach is growling. When you make your parents’ meals, make food for yourself, too.
Sit down as a family at each meal. You may find it gets them to eat more. Plus, you’ll have the food you need to provide energy for the rest of the day’s chores.
Take time every day to get exercise. Clear your head by going for a 30-minute walk or head to the gym and take out your frustration on some exercise equipment. It can be hard to do when your parents need you, but you need to focus on self-care. Exercise is part of it.
If you can’t find a full half-hour, that’s okay. Break it up in three 10-minute walks after each meal. Bring your parents or their dog if you don’t want to walk alone.
Respite care is a service you should look into. Call a senior care agency and ask how much caregivers cost if they’re coming to help you for a few hours each week. When a caregiver is there, you can focus on self-care. Don’t overlook the benefits of respite care from a senior care aide.