Did you know November is National Caregivers Month? That means it's a great time to recognize those who deserve it for their devotion to providing care to a loved one or friend. According to Mayo Clinic, 80 percent of long-term caregivers are not health care professionals. However, many people who are caring for a family member don't recognize themselves as caregivers.
Caregivers often suffer enormous amounts of stress from the aid they provide to help someone else. In turn, they often put caring for themselves on the back burner. Being a caregiver can be an around-the-clock commitment. Stress, burnout and fatigue can lead to negative health issues such as mental exhaustion, isolation and difficulty concentrating.
What can you do for the person who is a caregiver in your life? Or if you're the caregiver, what can you do for yourself?
Supporting a Caregiver
Whether it's your friend, family or someone else who is a caregiver, it's important to support them while they support someone else. How can you be a source of strength for this person?
- Ask them questions. Simply asking the caregiver how they're doing can make a world of difference. This lets them know you care about them and that you want to listen to what they have to say.
- Offer help. Many times, caregivers do not want to seem like a pest to their friends or family, and often won't seek help when they need it. Ask the caregiver if you can run grocery errands, make a phone call for them or make a meal for the person receiving care. If you offer to do something specific, this will show the caregiver you are readily available and willing to help.
- Spend time with the person receiving care. Often, family caregivers are the only link the person receiving care has to the outside world. Offer to do something with the sick or injured person so the caregiver can have a break. You could read, play a game or just talk with the person receiving care.
- Buy them a gift. Giving a caregiver a gift card, their favorite treat or even taking them out to dinner is a great way to show your appreciation. Little expressions of appreciation will tell the caregiver that they are not alone.
- Tell the caregiver it's OK. Let the caregiver know that it's OK for them to take some personal time each day to renew themselves. For them to care for someone else, they need to care for themselves.
- Be a friend. Don't let a caregiver feel like they're alone, which can lead to withdrawal from friends and family. Call and visit, but don't be hurt when they may not have much time to spend with you. After all, they're not just caring for themselves. Keep in mind that this is a time when they need you more than ever.
Stress Relieving Tips for Caregivers
If you are the caregiver, sometimes you need to take a step back to relax. It's important to know that it's OK to take a break. Even doing something small can make all the difference. Here are several suggestions to help you rewind, relax and recharge.
- Let go of negative thoughts. Take a few minutes each day to calm your mind. Focusing your mind can help you feel calmer and in control.
- Fresh flowers. Whether it's buying a bouquet or going into the garden and picking some yourself, fresh flowers can put a smile on your face and help brighten your day.
- Splurge. Is your favorite treat a scrumptious cupcake or a decadent glass of red wine? Treat yourself occasionally by enjoying your favorite treat with no guilt. Depending on what your splurge is, find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy and put the day's worries behind you.
- Take a break. Now and then, a manicure, pedicure or massage can provide the perfect stress-free getaway. Let someone else take care of you. Doing activities like this allows you to unwind for an hour or so and forget about your stress. Unable to arrange a getaway? Try to set aside a night just for yourself. Take a bubble bath and put on your comfiest pajamas. Rent your favorite movie and pop some popcorn. Make yourself a king or queen that night.
- Journal. As a caregiver, it's easy to feel like you're being pulled in many different directions. Taking a few minutes each day to write down how you're feeling is an excellent way to relieve stress.
We Are Here for You
When the time comes to step back from caregiving responsibilities, reach out to the team of skilled and compassionate professionals at Methodist Retirement Communities. We provide a wide range of care options, including: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing, Home Health and Affordable Housing. Many communities also offer Respite Care, where you can feel secure in leaving your friend or loved one overnight or for several days while you recharge and refresh!
You can have peace of mind knowing that your loved one is receiving the best care possible, no matter what area of living they are in. Learn more about how Methodist Retirement Communities can help you and your family by contacting us today!