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5 Tips to Keep Your Sanity as a Caregiver
Categories: Senior Care Tips, Taking Care of Yourself | Posted: 8/2/2011 | Views: 7906

Of course you know that what you are doing is “worth it.” Of course caring for your loved one brings many rewards. But some days you just feel like your loved one is driving you nuts! As somebody who cares for a loved one, you are part of a special group of people who contributes more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care each year--and that’s just for Alzheimer’s care!

All this service can come at a high cost to your health if you’re not careful. Sixty one percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers report their stress as high or very high, and 33% report symptoms of depression. Caregivers face higher risks of financial trouble, relational trouble, and physical health issues. Sounds like quite the ray of sunshine, huh?

All of this shows just how important it is for caregivers to take care of themselves as well as their loved one. Here are five tips to help you thrive as you’re caring for someone:

1. Team Up – There’s no reason to go it alone; there are 44.4 million unpaid caregivers in the US. Meet regularly with caregivers in your city so you can get support and vent a little. Join an online forum, or just schedule a regular time with a dear friend who’s willing to hear how you’re doing.
2. Call the Babysitter – You need a life outside of caregiving. Don’t worry, the world will not fall apart if you take a regular day off. There are many private nursing companies who will take care of your loved one for a day or half a day, so you can get away and enjoy life outside of caregiving. Use the time to go on a date, hole up in a Barnes and Noble, or spend some time with a few good friends. Is money an issue? Then lay down your pride and ask a friend or family member to watch a loved one for you. They’ll help--just ask!
3. Tickle Your Funny Bone – You’ve heard the old saying, “laughter is the best medicine”? Well it isn’t far from the truth! A regular diet of chuckles will not only give you a feeling of well-being, it’ll also improve your circulation, boost your immune system, relieve pain, and make you feel more relaxed! Plus it goes down a lot better than cough syrup.
4. Talk to Yourself – No, we’re not talking about the “voices in your head.” Rather, remind yourself of the positive things you know to be true. Most of the day, we passively listen to ourselves. This day is going from bad to worse…why did I even wake up today…I’m stuck here. Instead of listening to yourself all day, try actively telling yourself something more encouraging.
5. Prioritize – There are a million things to do today, and they’re not all going to get done. Since you can’t do everything, make a personal priority list to keep from feeling guilty when there isn’t time to complete your checklist. It can be broad, like “Take care of me , my spouse , my family , my job,” or it can be specific, like “Go to CVS, pay bills, do laundry.” Whatever your list, on the crazy days where you have done all you could, use your priorities as a weapon against feeling guilty over not getting the dishes done.

Your turn: tell us what you do to keep your sanity!

Kyle Heath is the Founder of Caris Alzheimer’s Supply, a company that provides eldercare products and caregiver encouragement. He also writes for the Caris Blog.


Chris Says:
1/19/2012 1:47:01 PM
What sanity? I don't think I have any left but will try some of these suggestions anyway
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