Support for Family Caregivers
Believe Us, You Are Not Alone
Serving as a loved one’s family caregiver can be demanding and stressful, but has its rewards. In this article, Comfort Keepers® provides you helpful advice on how to manage your caregiving responsibilities to control the stress so you can better appreciate your role as caregiver.
As you will read here, there are many supportive resources available to you. So, in the interest of your physical, mental and emotional health—and that of your family and the person you are caring for—don’t approach caregiving responsibilities as if you were alone.
Respite Care: Relief for the Family
No matter how much you love the person you are caring for, you need regular breaks from caregiving. Nonstop caregiving will drain your energy and take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health.
If you will not do it for yourself, please consider that respite care also benefits the person you are caring for. After a break, you will return feeling rejuvenated. You will be refreshed and more effective.
A respite could be just a day away with friends, an afternoon of personal errands, or an exercise break. Or it could be a vacation, away from it all.
You can find relief from numerous sources:
- Relatives and friends, who can step in as needed
- Professional in-home aged care providers, such as Comfort Keepers®
- Churches and other volunteer organizations
- Adult day care centers
- Community Centers
- Often, family and friends want to help. They just do not know how. As a caregiver, you can make it easy on them—and yourself—by always having a list of assignments ready, like preparing meals, picking up a few groceries, going for a walk with the senior, or staying with him or her from time-to-time.
Before planning respite, be sure to talk with your loved one about it, explaining the up side for everyone. To help your loved one accept the idea, be sure to involve him or her in making the arrangements.
How to Care for Yourself and Prevent Caregiver Burnout
Besides scheduling regular respites, Comfort Keepers recommends that you practice the following to relieve stress and maintain optimal health:
- Exercise—make it part of your schedule for added energy.
- Get plenty of sleep—at least seven hours.
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals.
- Maintain contact with friends for essential emotional support.
- Stay involved in hobbies and social activities.
- Join a support group, which can encourage you and back you up with experienced advice.
- Visit your doctor regularly and share concerns you have about the effects of caregiving on your physical, mental and emotional health.
- Take time to pamper yourself—for instance, a warm bath, manicure or massage.
- Laugh. Find humour in everyday situations and take time out with a humourous book or movie.
- Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. It provides an essential release for your emotions.
- Arrange for a family member, friend or volunteer to call you on a regular basis to see if you need any help.
- Confide in others. Do not bottle up your emotions.
- Know your limits. You know what other responsibilities you have, so be realistic about how much time you can give to caregiving. Do not be afraid to delegate.
- Learn as much as you can about caregiving and your loved one’s needs or illness. The more you know, the more effective and more satisfied you can be.
How a Support Group Can Help You
Caregiver Support and Advice on the Web
You will find a wealth of online information to provide caregiving support and advice:
Carers Australia Supporting Caregivers http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/