Being a caregiver for a loved one is challenging. It’s important to realize that you’re not alone. In the U.S., 83% of help provided to older adults comes from family members, friends or other unpaid caregivers. To avoid burnout, here are some ways you can care for yourself.
1. Get help.
When family and friends ask what they can do to help, take them up on their offer. Let them run errands, prepare a meal and eat with you or, depending upon their relationship with the loved one, sit with the person while you take a break. If friends and family don’t volunteer to help, ask for it.
Take advantage of community resources, such as those at the Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation at Christiana Care.
2. Schedule breaks.
Look into adult day care services or respite programs, such as companion services, skilled care facilities or home health aide services. Use the break to do things you enjoy.
3. Take care of your health.
Exercise can relieve stress and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Eat nutritious foods and get plenty of rest.
4. Maintain a social life.
Scheduling time with friends is important, even if you’re only talking on the phone or texting to stay in touch.
5. Kick guilt to the curb.
It’s normal to feel guilty if you lose your patience or take time off. Think about all of the good things that you do. If the guilt persists, consider talking to a counselor or social worker about your feelings.
Author Cyndy Fanning, MSW, LCSW, is senior social worker and program manager at the Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation at Christiana Care.