Caring for your aging parents or loved ones can be difficult in many ways–physically, emotionally, and financially, to name a few. Being a caregiver can be a real challenge and take a serious toll. However, there are things you can do to cope with these challenges and make your time with your loved one more joyful. Here are a few tips on coping for caregivers of seniors.
Don’t Forget to Support Yourself Too
When you spend all your time supporting someone else, sometimes you forget that you also need support from others. Caregiving requires an enormous amount of time and energy, and can also be incredibly emotionally draining. In fact, one study showed that more than 50% of caregivers for people with dementia had high depression and anxiety scores. If you don’t take time to support yourself along with your loved one, you could feel burned out, anxious, and depressed.
Make sure you regularly talk to or spend time with your own support system. This could be family, friends, colleagues, a therapist…anyone who listens to you and helps you feel loved and supported. If you find yourself far from your support system, you can still reach out in the form of video chatting, video messaging, texting, and phone calls.
Make It Fun
You don’t have to give up everything fun in your life to care for your senior parents or loved ones. Try to incorporate things you enjoy into your caretaking. For example, if you enjoy movies, try bringing your loved one to see a movie in the theater, or create a “movie night” at home with popcorn and treats. If you like art or craft projects, try some creative projects together (art or crafting can even be helpful for those with dementia!). Book fans could spend time reading aloud to their loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you enjoy it. Just make sure you don’t leave the things you love behind while you care for others.
Caretaking can be physically demanding as well. Your loved one may require care in the middle of the night or early morning, cutting into your sleep time and leaving you exhausted. If your loved one has mobility challenges, you may need to provide a lot of physical support to help them. It is very hard to take care of someone else when you yourself are worn out, so take time to do the things that will keep you feeling healthy and strong. This might include a little bit of exercise each day, eating fresh, whole foods, and getting outside when you can. Anything you can do is better than nothing. If you can only squeeze in 5 minutes of exercise per day, that’s still far more than nothing. Maybe you can’t eat beautifully prepared healthy meals every day, but you can have a protein bar for a snack instead of a candy bar. Look for little ways to stay healthy, and caretaking will feel a lot easier and happier.
Consider Senior Living
In some cases, caregiving might be too much no matter how well you support yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t blame yourself if you find this is the case! Senior living can be a great option for caregivers to consider. There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Find a community with excellent staff who can give your loved one all the help and support they need. Check out Stellar Living’s communities today to see if there is a good fit for your loved one.
We hope these tips help keep you healthy and happy in the admirable task of caring for your senior loved one!