If anyone thinks caregiving is easy, they’ve never been a caregiver. It’s not always a burden, of course. It can bring families closer together, and can provide a chance to give back to a loved one.
Many aspects are rewarding. But it’s also fair to say that caregiving has its fair share of challenges, and can be draining on even those who receive lots of support. Fortunately, there are ways to take away the negative thoughts, to make life easier, even when times are tough.
1) Take Care of You First
When listening to instructions before a flight takes off, we’re told to put our own oxygen masks on first if there is an emergency, before we help children or the elderly. The reason for this is that if we aren’t OK, then those who are depending on us won’t be either, and a dangerous domino effect will happen.
This is also true about caregiving. So make (and take) the time to get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat well.
Caregiving can be physically quite draining. The more sleep you get, and the more exercise you take — even when you don’t feel like it — the stronger you’re going to be. This “me time” should be considered a part of your own routine, not as some sort of treat.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and is instrumental in feeling positive about yourself. Organize this time off, even just an hour a day, when other family members can take up the slack, or take the time away in a room in your home to exercise to a DVD and get a little relaxation time in, too.
Have lunch or drinks with friends. Meet friends when your loved one is in therapy or having a treatment done. If getting out is hard, have friends bring a little something over, and you can have a get-together without leaving the house. Laughing and socializing with good friends will put you in a positive mindset straightaway.
2) Talk About It
Don’t be afraid to talk about the hardships. Verbalizing feelings of fatigue, frustration and fear is a good thing. Always make a point of doing your best to talk away from the patient.