Dr . Amy: Health and Wellness for CaregiversWe all know by now how important it is for caregivers to take care of themselves. There are studies showing that when an older person falls seriously ill, his or her spouse faces a higher risk of getting sick as well. So, it seems that our job as caregivers is to take specific steps to keep our own bodies healthy.
Of course, we also need to maintain emotional wellness. We are always thinking, planning, and arranging but we must remember that it's just as important to let our feelings out, either with our loved one or with friends who want to help us.
It reminds me of the airplane announcements when they tell us if we are traveling with children, be sure to put on your own oxygen mask first and then put on their masks. Caregivers need to tend to their own needs in order to be most effective in helping their loved ones who are ill. Our continuing quest for good quality of life needs to include ourselves as well as the patient. In fact, most patients will feel better when their caregivers are feeling better and their needs are being met.
So, what are some ways to make this happen?
- Have a life outside of the illness. Get away for short spurts so you can escape the cues of illness around the house.
- If you have sleep disruptions, make sure to fit in a nap or meditate for 15 minutes.
- Go back to a hobby you enjoyed pre-illness.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. It can really make you feel better, get those endorphins of good feelings going. Even in this difficult medical situation, you can still commit to good eating habits. Remember your goal is to keep yourself in good shape, both physically and emotionally. Fitness helps you feel good about yourself.
I encourage you to rearrange your thinking and remember that your needs are as important as the needs of your loved one. You will get more satisfaction and the patient will be happy that you are feeling good as well.
Action Plan for Caregivers
It's More Than Just Physical Care
Caregiving and Siblings
Learning How to Accept Care