Although caregiving can be somewhat stressful at times, it can also be a very rewarding and enriching experience for both the caregiver and the recipient. This time together can be a great opportunity to learn about your family history and what events might have had an impact on who you are today. Take the time to listen and learn; often doing so will shed light on current struggles or challenges you’ve faced.
My biggest piece of advice to caregivers, however, is to take care of yourself first. Think of it like when the flight attendant says you have to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting another person. It’s the same with caregiving; you have to be strong first to care for your loved one.
Today’s Gen X and millennial caregivers are often caring for their own children, working full-time and also caring for an older loved one. These caregivers are more at risk for stress-related illnesses, like depression, heart disease and stroke. It’s vitally important to realize that you need to prevent stress from taking a toll on your health and well-being.
Every day, try to engage in an activity that reduces stress, like exercising, getting outside in nature, listening to music or spending time with friends. It’s not selfish, it’s self-preservation!
Dr. Roffman is a psychologist for Baptist Health’s AgeWell Center, which helps older adults facing challenging medical issues live more independent and productive lives by providing them with an enriched level of specialized primary care in one central location.