November is National Caregiver Month. It is a time to honor to those who have sacrificed their time, money, and physical and emotional strength in service of another. The theme this year is “Caregiving Around the Clock.” This simply means caregivers often give of themselves and rarely take the time for self-care.
These caregivers are mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, nurses, etc. They are someone who shops, bathes, cleans houses and comforts others in need. Some do it for work, but most do it because they are taking care of a friend or family member and it is often unpaid. It can be difficult and taxing, especially if the caregiver is also working a full-time job.
This month is used to raise awareness about the important role of a caregiver in our community and that they also need to be taken care of. If you are a caregiver, remember to take care of yourself, too, so you can continue to give to those you love.
Suggestions for Taking Care of Yourself as a Caregiver
Taking care of yourself when taking care of another is quite frankly a thankless job. The demands of your loved one’s life can seem greater than your own. Choosing to prioritize your needs will help you be more available to meet someone else’s needs. It can also help you avoid burnout. Here are some simple ways to make your life a little easier.
Schedule “You” Time
Managing your time is important, so make sure you are prioritizing your schedule. Doctor appointments are not only for those you are caring for; if you aren’t healthy, how are you going to take care of anyone else? Aside from making sure you’re physically well, take time to watch a movie, make a date with a close friend or take a long walk some place scenic. Put these activities on your schedule and do everything you can not to reschedule them for next time. If you put them on the schedule, you are less likely to let time slip by and not do it.
Use Technology as a Resource
Cell phones, apps and websites can be your biggest resources as a caregiver. Embracing technology can help you in many ways because there are so many things you can do that make life a bit easier, such as managing medication or scheduling appointments. Being able to schedule notifications and having everything in one place can be a lifesaver when you are caring for others and yourself.
Being rested is an integral part of being healthy. If you are lighting the candle at both ends, burnout is just around the corner. Rest can look like a lot of things, sleeping being the obvious one. A 20-minute power nap is known to lift mood, mental alertness, increase reaction time, boost memory and reduce fatigue. If napping just isn’t for you, sitting quietly reading a book or meditating could be an alternative way to get a bit of rest during your day.
It may feel, sometimes, as if you are the only person able to care for your loved one. However, it is important to reach out for help and accept it when it is offered. Sources of help can come from other family and friends. You can also hire a professional to provide respite care once or twice a week. This would allow you to schedule time to take care of your needs.
Taking care of someone else, including yourself, can be overwhelming. Paperwork can pile up and get missed, appointments forgotten, medication misplaced, etc. Taking the time to have the paperwork in order and in a safe place can save time when it is needed. Pill holders for medication can help avoid a missed medication or forgetting to order more when they are going to run out. It can provide some peace of mind and calm in the middle of what can sometimes feel chaotic.
On behalf of the Public Authority, during this National Caregiver Month we’d like to send our sincere thanks to the dedicated caregivers who give their time, treasure, and talent which allows clients to remain safely in their own homes!