What are you doing as a caregiver to protect your peace of mind?
If you’re looking after an older adult, this is an important question to regularly ask yourself. Caregiving can be stressful and time-consuming. Though it is undoubtedly one of the greatest acts of love there is, it can also be a major drain on your time and resources. It’s easy to feel exhausted, stretched thin, or preoccupied with your loved one’s health and wellbeing. In fact, it’s quite common for caregivers to worry so much that they eventually suffer from burnout.
So, as a caregiver, what can you do to make sure that your older loved ones are supported and cared for – and that you don’t have to sacrifice your own wellness and peace of mind in the process? Here are five ideas to consider:
1.) Know the Signs of Potential Trouble
As a caregiver, there’s a limit to what you can do alone. It’s important to be aware of the “yellow flags” that indicate that it may be time to seek additional help. Knowing when it’s time to bring in help or take action can help reinforce your peace of mind, in the present and well into the future.
Generally, there are two major areas to watch out for. Signs that it’s time for additional care and attention may come from your elderly loved one, and from yourself.
First, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your senior loved one’s health status and living conditions. It may be time to seek help, such as hiring a professional caregiver, if you notice some of these common warning signs:
- Your loved one is unable to keep up with daily activities, such as bathing, walking, cooking, and eating.
- You notice dramatic changes in their appearance, such as weight loss, bruising, or poor grooming or hygiene.
- Your loved one’s living environment has become messy. You may notice piles of laundry everywhere, mail piling up, dust or grime on surfaces, an unkempt yard, and so on.
- Your older adult relative has become withdrawn and socially isolated.
- You notice mental and behavioral changes in your elder, such as frequent memory lapses and confusion, mood swings, poor speech, or abusive behavior.
Similarly, it’s important to take stock of your own personal circumstances and wellbeing, for the sake of your own peace of mind, and the quality of your loved one’s care. Are you experiencing excessive strain, stress, fatigue, or symptoms of burnout? Ask yourself:
- Am I angry or irritable all the time?
- Am I losing sleep or suffering ill health?
- Have I lost interest in things I used to do?
- Am I making enough time for myself and my family?
- Do I frequently feel mentally or physically exhausted?
- Have I started turning to coping mechanisms, such as increased drinking, to get through the day?
All of these are signs that it may be time to seek additional help – in order to give you back your health, wellness, and peace of mind.
With that in mind, as a family caregiver, it’s important to…
2.) Protect Your Own Health
As a loving caregiver, it’s easy for you to devote all of your time and attention to those you’re providing for, and accidentally overlook your own health. Don’t let your own health suffer because you’re putting all your attention on others! Instead, be sure to regularly check in on yourself. Gauge how you’re feeling, and take concrete steps to stay healthy, such as:
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Get a healthy amount of rest each night.
- Make time to exercise and stay active.
- Keep up to date with any medications you may be taking.
- Talk to someone if you need help, such as a therapist or a support group.
- Keep up with your personal doctor’s visits and appointments.
In addition to safeguarding your physical and mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to make some time to…
3.) Give Yourself a Break
As a caregiver, it’s easy to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It’s natural to want to fill up your schedule and devote as much time as humanly possible to your loved ones. But it’s also important to establish boundaries and make sure that you give yourself time for other important things in life.
Make sure that you give yourself time for things that have nothing to do with caregiving. That may mean:
- Finding time to meditate every day
- Starting a class
- Volunteering in the community
- Spending time with your kids
- Getting a work project done
- Traveling or taking a vacation
- Pursuing an art project
- Taking up a new hobby or joining a sports team
- Hiking, biking, birding, or otherwise getting out into nature
We could list dozens of additional examples, and you’re probably thinking of a few yourself. The most important thing is that you go out and do them!
It’s not selfish to put yourself first every now and then. In fact, it’s essential to your health and peace of mind. And taking some time off may even come back to benefit your loved one! You may return to caregiving rested, recharged, and refocused, making things better for your older relative.
And while you do get your much-needed break, there are respite care services, such as Companions for Seniors, that can help support your parent or loved one with personalized care while you get some much-needed time away.
4.) Make Use of Technology
In today’s day and age, there are all sorts of ways that you can put technology to work to make things easier for yourself and your senior loved one, helping to keep them safe and secure while giving you back time for the other important things in life. Here are a few ideas that may prove useful:
- Add cameras, sensors, or home security features to your older loved one’s home
- Equip your senior relative with an alert button, to instantly call 911 in the event of an accident or incident
- Make use of automated pill dispensers, digital calendars, and other mechanisms to help keep your loved one’s schedule on track
- Use a group chat or a virtual workstation to mass-communicate with siblings, caregivers, healthcare providers, and others about your loved one’s health needs
- Scan and store your loved one’s important paperwork and records for easy virtual access later on
5.) Know When to Ask for Help
Finally, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. One of the best ways to safeguard your loved one’s wellbeing, and your own peace of mind, is to bring in help. This could take many forms! It might mean bringing together your network of friends and family to help support your loved one. It might mean taking advantage of meal delivery and other handy services.
For many households across the country, non-medical home care is the answer. With an in-home companion, you can rest easy, knowing that your senior has a friendly face ready to step in and provide support when you can’t. With flexible hours and useful skill sets, a professional companion can assist your loved one in multiple ways, including:
- Providing driving services
- Helping with housekeeping and laundry
- Assisting with meal prep
- Assisting with activities of daily living
- Providing a friendly face and great conversation
- Acting as a go-between for older adults and their family caregivers
Are you ready to look for help? Do you have a loved one who might benefit from a professional in-home companion or caregiver? Companions for Seniors can help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today to keep the conversation going.
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.