November is National Family Caregiver Month. In recognition, here are our top five self-care tips for the sandwich generation and baby boomers caring for their aging loved ones.
Find Support– Early in your caregiving journey it’s important that you find a support group filled with individuals in similar circumstances. Having this support system will prove to be valuable as your journey unfolds. Finding a support group specific to a particular disease can be especially helpful. You may find extra comfort in having a friend who has been down a similar road with their aging parent or spouse. This friend will help you overcome hurdles and know what to expect as time passes. Today’s Caregiver has a comprehensive list of support groups that can be filtered by zip code.
Know Your Limits– Everyone has limits. It’s important to identify your boundaries ahead of time, before you or your loved one suffers. A good place to start is identifying your physical limitations (do you need the help of in home care?) in caring for your aging loved one. Next, define your physical limits for auxiliary tasks like additional house work and yard maintenance? If you get injured while caring for your aging loved one your life will become even more hectic.
Accept Help– Once you have identified your limits, it’s time to find help. If you know there are certain duties that would be better performed by a professional, or even friend, facilitate getting help. If a friend offers to bring you dinner once a week or take your parent to their physician appointment, let them make your life easier. Just because you are physically capable of completing all of these tasks does not mean that it’s healthy. In the long run, you will be better off if you allow others to help you on a regular basis.
Involve Your Loved One in Making Decisions– As a caregiver, you may feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. When possible, involve your aging loved ones in decisions regarding their care, daily schedule and future. This will allow you to conserve your energy to focus on decisions only you can make while allowing your aging loved one to feel as though they are still in charge of their life. The same technique can be used if you’re a member of the sandwich generation, caring for your children and aging adult parents.
Do Something Fun Every Day– Whether it’s going for a bike ride, long walk, taking a bubble bath, reading a book or having a cup of coffee on your front porch, it’s important that you do something you enjoy every day. With the hectic life of a caregiver, often filled with more “have to” items than “want to”, having something to look forward to will make a big difference in your outlook.
What are your top self-care tips?