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Being the primary caregiver for an older loved one is tough, and expectations are frequently quite high. With that said, there are ways to relieve some of the stress, and much of it revolves around a shift in your mindset. After all, each of us can only do so much before we simply break down! One of the keys to success for maintaining a positive caregiver lifestyle is to take time away from your responsibilities and make time for yourself. Truly try to be “in the moment” and simply enjoy a hobby or other activity that allows you to lose yourself and just let go.
Even if you have the best caregiver support system, on many occasions the needs of your loved ones will become incredibly demanding (at least that’s how it feels). By taking some to time recharge and de-stress, you’ll become a more pleasant and productive caregiver. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising are all essential elements of caring for the caregiver.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you go through your caregiving journey:
- Develop a routine. Each morning have a glass of water, some protein and engage in light movement/exercise. This sets the right tone for each day and jump-starts your body.
- Find a hobby and really dig into it. Whether you’re reading a book, at a Star Trek convention or tuning into “Mad Men,” completely immerse yourself into something that brings you simple joy.
- Slow down. A recent New York Times article indicated that slowing down, contrary to what one might assume, helps you become more efficient. Clearly the quality of what you do is as important as the quantity of the things you accomplish.
- Eat right. It’s amazing how junk food zaps your energy and healthy food fuels the body. Don’t be too strict – otherwise eating properly just becomes another form of stress – just try to keep your meals simple, nutritious and fresh.
- Ask for help. You can’t expect your friends and family to automatically offer to help. Speak up and communicate your needs. I recently recorded a video that will help you learn how to ask your family members for help.
- Think quality. Make the most of your time when you’re caregiving. Try your best to be attentive and truly listen to your aging loved ones. Open lines of communication go a long way towards earning mutual respect.
- Utilize resources. There are so many untapped products and services available to help ease caregiver stress – use them. They range from great caregiving blog websites such as www.caregiving.com to products like the VTech CarelineTM phone, which will help enhance communication with your aging loved ones and provide a little peace of mind when you are not with them.
Be sure to recognize that you still may feel overwhelmed, even when you do implement these tips and other lifestyle changes. Gaining back control of your life often relates to having meaning in your days. Of course, this is easier said than done. So don’t worry if you seem to be making positive changes more slowly than you’d like; they will all add up. The most important thing is to not feel guilty. You can’t be everything to everyone. You must make yourself a priority!
Disclaimer: Content and suggestions provided within should not be construed as a formal recommendation and AJA Associates, LLC makes no representations, endorsements or warranties relating to the accuracy, use or completeness of the information.
ALEXIS ABRAMSON, Ph.D. is cited as America’s leading, impassioned champion for the dignity and independence of those over 50. Abramson is the author of two highly acclaimed books – The Caregivers Survival Handbook and Home Safety for Seniors. For more information go to www.alexisabramson.com.