Did you know caregivers are more at-risk for stress-related illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, heart disease and stroke? Here are some quick tips to help reverse that trend and become a stronger and healthier caregiver.
Let go of the guilt. Caregivers often feel guilty when they take time for themselves, but it is vitally important. You can’t care for an older loved one if you are neglecting your own care, so by taking time for yourself, you will be in a better state of mind to care for your older loved one.
Don’t argue. Especially in situations where there are memory issues, don’t try to argue your point even if the person you are caring for is wrong. You will never win! Instead, try redirecting the person on something else by changing the subject.
Don’t take things personally. This bit of advice actually works in many areas of life, not just with caregiving. The person you are caring for may lash out in frustration but try to remember they are not angry with you, but with their situation.
Keep things in perspective. When you are in the midst of caregiving, it may seem like it will never end, but of course there will come a time when it will. Sometimes in the midst of the care, all you can do is just “breathe!" So take a few minutes each day to just close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. You’ll feel yourself relaxing and feeling more calm. It’s so simple but it works!
Join a support group. Hearing others’ stories of how they are coping can be very helpful. If you can’t get to a support group, there are many online resources available from home. I encourage caregivers to check out videos by dementia and Alzheimer’s care expert Teepa Snow. A resource list of some of her free videos can be found at http://lbdtools.com/files/TSnow.pdf
Kym Dunton provides free nurse coaching for caregivers who care for patients in Baptist Health’s AgeWell program. AgeWell 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. For more information about AgeWell, go to www.baptistjax.com/agewell or call 904.202.4243.