Respite Care - When Caring for a Loved One, Remember to Take Care of Yourself

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Mar 03, 2013

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Utah - Utah

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If you've taken on the caregiver role for a senior or someone with a chronic illness or disability, chances are you have experienced more than your share of fatigue, frustration, loneliness and stress. Few of us expect to add caregiving to an already challenging list of family and professional responsibilities. But if the task falls on you and the strain of caregiving threatens to throw your hectic life off balance, take a tip or two from those who have walked in your shoes.
Get all the help you can. Seek or accept help from family members, friends, neighbors, volunteers from your community or church group, paid caregivers or a geriatric care manager. Help may take the form of care or companionship for your loved one, assistance with shopping or homemaking or help completing daily activities such as bathing, dressing and meal preparation.
Safeguard your physical and mental health. Undertaking the role of a caregiver can mean accepting a great deal of additional responsibility on top of managing your own health. Surprisingly, the primary reason many seniors are moved from the comfort of their own home into an institutional setting is the decline in health of the caregiver, not the patient. Many caregivers take minimal time to care for themselves, not allowing time to exercise, rest or to eat regular meals. Exhaustion can compromise your body's immune system and lead to illness. Caregivers often don't rest when they are ill and postpone their own health care needs like flu shots, and doctor appointments. Between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers experience symptoms of depression. Its important to eat well, get enough sleep, see your doctor regularly and take time for yourself in order to stay healthy, keep your loved ones healthy and avoid burnout.
Make time for yourself. Schedule respite times when you can attend to your needs and pursue your interests. Exercise, shop, read or enjoy yourself with friends and other family members - engaging in whatever activities you find most fulfilling and relaxing. Either through finding activities your loved ones are interested in or by having someone else come in to provide you some relief, making time for yourself is an important element in maintaining your physical and mental well-being.
Consider connecting with other caregivers. Communicating with people who share your challenges can be a relief. Contact your local senior center or hospital to learn about caregiver support groups in your area or connect with fellow caregivers via the Internet.
As with other priorities in your life, the responsibility of caring for yourself comes down to you. Even small steps toward positive change can reap significant benefits for you and your loved ones.
ResCare Home Care can assist you by providing respite care, in-home senior care, care management or other personal home care services or by referring you to other professionals in your community who can address your needs.
Editors Note: This article was submitted by Elizabeth Squires. Elizabeth Squires is a Branch Manager with ResCare Home Care and may be reached at 801-288-4100 or by email at esquires@rescare.com

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