Visiting Angels Southlake, TX Blog

Take Care of You: Self-Care Tips for the Family Caregiver

As a family caregiver, when was the last time you did something just for you? So often, family caregivers leave little time for themselves, neglecting their own self-care, in order to take care of the needs of others. It’s a natural tendency, especially if you’ve been a family caregiver for a long time. The needs of an aging loved one can be very costly and time-consuming, leaving the family caregiver with little left over to pour into themselves. However, it’s crucial to remember that we cannot fill another’s cup if we ourselves are running on empty. Not taking time for ourselves also leads us down the path of caregiver burnout, which has a plethora of negative health consequences.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, those caring for a loved one over the age of 50 are, on average, 47 years old themselves, and are working at least part-time. Most family caregivers are women, but at least 40% of caregivers are men. Family caregivers often report feeling unprepared to provide care for their aging loved one and have inadequate knowledge about how to deliver care. Family caregivers are often at a loss when it comes to accessing and utilizing available community resources. As a result, they end up taking on too much themselves, thus neglecting their own health care needs in order to assist their loved one. If you’re feeling a little burnt out half-way through this summer season, here are a few tips on how to incorporate more self-care into your life so that you can recharge.

Join a Support Group
If you don’t know where to start in order to find more time for yourself, start by joining a support group that shares a common concern. Whether it’s an Alzheimer’s or dementia support group, or a group that focuses on family caregivers, connecting with others who are in a similar situation can provide you an outlet to vent. Support groups are also a great place to connect you with an abundance of resources, and often offer educational opportunities so that you learn how to administer care to your aging loved one.

Make Self-Care a Part of Your Daily Routine
While most of us think that self-care involves an expensive trip to the spa for a day of pampering, self-care doesn’t have to be costly or consume a lot of time. It can be as simple as taking a moment to pause first thing in the morning so that you can take a few deep breaths before you hit the ground running. Here are a few more easy ideas to make self-care part of your daily routine. Purchase an aromatherapy body washy for an instant spa-like experience while you shower. Start that book you’ve been meaning to read and give yourself permission to read one chapter a day. Enjoy a tall glass of lemonade outside on the patio after caring for your aging loved one. Learn a few morning or evening yoga poses to practice daily. Give yourself ten minutes to walk around the neighborhood.

Set Healthy Boundaries
Whether you’ve assumed the role of family caregiver without much of a discussion with your siblings, or you feel guilty hiring outside help, in order to take care of yourself, you need to set healthy boundaries. Commit only to what you can do for your aging loved one and say “no” to the tasks that are too demanding for your personal and professional life. Then, find alternative ways to manage what’s left. Ask other family members to help with laundry. Hire a cleaning company to clean your loved one’s home. Invite a family friend to sit with your loved one so you can run errands. Bring in outside help to assist with bathing. There are many options that can help you create and maintain healthy boundaries, so that you have time to take care of you.

Take Time Away
Finally, give yourself permission to take time away from your caregiver responsibilities. Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time. Time away allows you to recharge and can even strengthen the relationship you have with your aging loved one. Schedule a week off from your caregiving responsibilities. Arrange for other siblings, family members, friends, or an in-home care agency to take over while you step away. You don’t necessarily have to travel; use the time off to revisit favorite hobbies, catch up with friends, sleep, or just be alone with no agenda. Then, schedule consistent “self-care time” so that you prevent caregiver burnout in the future.

Visiting Angels Southlake understands the demands of caring for an aging loved one. We are here to help you navigate this care journey and want to be your go-to team when you need to take time for yourself. We believe that taking time for yourself is not selfish; it is simply keeping yourself the focus of your own life. Whether you’re looking for consistent in-home care to help alleviate some of the caregiving burden you shoulder, or you need a week away to recharge, we are here to help. We work with each of our clients and their families to create a plan of care that addresses their individual needs. Let us walk this care journey with you. Please contact us today so that we can learn more about your situation.
Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.