How To Stay Healthy Even When Caring For A Senior

How To Stay Healthy Even When Caring For A Senior
Caregiving is a noble duty that requires striking a balance between your personal care and the care of the person you’re helping.

Caring for an aged person can be quite demanding and fulfilling at the same time.
Keeping yourself strong-minded and well-balanced will bring out the best in you in such situations.
In this article, we’ll be exploring a few tips to help you stay healthy while attending to a senior who needs you.

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

A lot of people who provide care to the debilitated suffer from its stressful impact. Many times, the over-burden of a day’s job and care-taking leaves the caregivers’ needs unmet.
There are stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) released to cope up for long periods until symptoms of burnout start to be noticed.
Symptoms of burnout are –
  • Insomnia
  • Social withdrawal and lack of interest in activities
  • Depressive states and mood swings
  • Suffering from infections frequently
  • Bloating and reduced appetite
  • Feeling vulnerable and hopeless
  • Irritability, lack of concentration and poor memory

How To Care Stay Healthy When Caring For A Senior

Here are some tips to ensure you stay healthy (physically and mentally) when caring for someone who’s dependent on you.

1. Prioritize Your Sleep

Sleep at least 7-9 hours every night. While this may sound like a lot for a caregiver, it is actually the normal range for a healthy life. You can use tips like trying to sleep when the person you’re caring for is asleep so that you aren’t groggy when they need you to help them take care of important things.
Also, you can get yourself a decent mattress to help you initiate and sustain your sleep.

2. Experiment With Meditation

According to a post by Harvard Medical School, caregivers will benefit from compassion, breathing exercises, yoga, tai-chi, meditation, and deep relaxation techniques.
You need to find space and time for yourself and connect with your inner sense of well-being. You can do some breathing exercises to stimulate your parasympathetic system and generate a relaxation process in your body. Try it after waking up or before sleeping for 10 minutes.
One of the methods is to let your thoughts pass by and not attach to any of them. Only focus on your breath and count 5 for inhalation, hold for 5 and exhale for 5. Each time you get distracted, come back to your expanding chest, the flow of air and the sense of calmness it is bringing to you.
You can do this sitting comfortably or while lying down.
You can also use chants or repeat affirmations like “I choose to bring health and hope. I release my tensions with every exhalation.”

Studies on Alzheimer’s sufferers and caregivers have shown that simple meditation techniques can act as an effective intervention and reduce stress, blood pressure as well as improves sleep, mood and memory.

3. Join Support Groups and Ask for Volunteers

Approach people and ask for help where necessary. Request your friend or family members to cook a dish, sit with the ill family members, do the grocery or take your kids out to play.
You can also join communities, venting out to people with similar situations will help you feel better. A lot of doctors, psychologists, and experienced health workers are also available to guide you further.
You could also send your old parents or kids to centers that foster them and take good care of their needs. This will ensure they are properly taken care of and give you some time for revitalization.
You really need to socialize too. Hangout with your friends and seek their advice. Try not to feel alone. Smile more often and don’t miss out on all social gatherings out there.

4. Take a Break

Living under stressful conditions for more than a year can leave you feeling drained. You need to take time off too. Get someone to look after – either a paid worker or family member. Don’t stir up any guilt while doing this.

Go attend some opera, WWE match, theatre, circus, whatever you like. Get a nice suitcase, take a mini vacation with your spouse and kids. You could also visit a spa to quieten those cramps. These are your well-deserving rewards.
You should take a week off from the daily routine every 3-6 months. Try and do some entertaining activity once every two weeks. Don’t run after perfectionism when providing care. It doesn’t exist. Good effort is enough. Excess is exhausting.

5. Smile and Laugh More Often

This may be our last point in this post but the most easily performed and a very valuable thing to do in caregiving.

Make humor a part of your attitude. Learn to let go of what you cannot control and be at ease about it.
Watching funny shows on TV, reading comics or cracking a joke can pump out those endorphins that will trigger happiness and help you feel better.

Humor is used as an alternative therapy for various mental illnesses and has shown a positive influence on social and physical health.
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