Caregivers do so much to help care for those who have mobility issues or other medical problems due to injury, older age or disability. However, who cares for the caregiver, and how does the health of someone hold up if they're constantly putting others' needs before themselves?
Perhaps not surprisingly, caregivers are more likely than others to have coexisting anxiety or depression, in part, due to the physical and emotional stress that often comes with caring for another person.
Caregiving: A Rewarding but Often Stressful Responsibility
While being a caregiver is incredibly rewarding, it is a "job" that doesn't pay but demands quite a bit from the individual. Did you know: According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, Nearly 45 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to a child or adult in the last year?
Tips for Caregivers
Below, we've compiled several helpful tips to help you (or the caregiver in your life) lead a healthier life while still providing care to loved ones.
#1 - Know the signs of caregiver stress.
Some signs of caregiver stress include (but are not limited to):
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Irritable mood
- Losing interest in activities they once used to enjoy
- Substance abuse (drugs/alcohol)
#2 - Join a support group.
It can be helpful to receive encouragement and problem-solve with other like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar situations to you.
#3 - Exercise.
Getting regular exercise can help to ease stress and help you focus on your own health. It is important to take care of yourself first so that you can provide quality care to those you love.
#4 - Eat healthy.
Diet is just as important as exercise. Don’t negate the effects of a good workout by eating poorly. Eat food that is nutritious and which will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
#5 - Get plenty of rest.
Sleep is one of the biggest things anyone can do for their body to help it function better. When we sleep, we allow our bodies the chance to recharge.
You are Not Alone.
It is easy to get caught up in the act of caregiving so much so that it leaves you feeling overwhelmed or even guilty. Know that you are not alone; other caregivers are in similar situations. In addition to the tips above, it is also helpful to take advantage of any and all local resources you may have available. A great resource for caregivers is the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).