CAREGIVING STRESS BUSTERS | Caregiver Action Network


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6 ways to help you cope and remain strong

Creative tips to get around the barriers to self-care while caregiving for a loved one

Rest and eating well are important to overall health, especially when you are caring for someone else. — Chi Birmingham

Caring for a sick loved one can take a huge toll on your health. Try these 6 simple tips on how to take better care of you.

"Telling caregivers to 'eat right' is useless advice," says Washington, D.C., dietitian Katherine Tallmadge. Caregivers usually know what to eat; they just don't have time to cook healthier meals. Her answer: batch cooking, which lets you freeze individual portions that you can eat during the week. She tells harried caregivers to make a big pot of a hearty, all-in-one meal like a soup with meat, beans and vegetables, or a stew.

Twelve minutes of daily meditation can dramatically improve the mental health of caregivers, report UCLA researchers. In that study, 65 percent of family caregivers who practiced a chanting yogic meditation called Kirtan Kriya every day for eight weeks saw a 50 percent improvement on a depression-rating scale. Meditation also increased telomerase activity — a sign that cellular aging had slowed, says study author Helen Lavretsky, M.D.

Nutritious foods you can grab on the run help keep blood sugar levels on an even keel and energy levels from flagging, says Tallmadge. She nixes the typical granola bars — "too high in sugar" — opting instead for what she calls "real food" with hunger-busting protein. That means a handful of whole almonds or a PB&J sandwich. Plus, healthy snacks are a good way to add more fruits, vegetables and fiber to your diet.
Slow Down to end stress

Whether it's heating up food for dinner or helping someone in the bathroom, the advice is the same: Don't rush. "It sounds obvious, but when you're stressed and distracted, you're more prone to having accidents. What you don't need is to cut or burn yourself, or slip in the tub," says Karen Rowinsky, an Overland Park, Kansas, social worker who specializes in caregiver counseling. Such accidents can be a warning sign that you're at your limit, a 2006 study finds.

This may seem counter‑intuitive — you're already doing so much to help your family member. But helping out in a different way, in a different setting, can be gratifying and therapeutic, says Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D., author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: "One woman told me she volunteers weekly at an animal shelter because the pets are so responsive." Plus, volunteers live longer than non volunteers, a University of Michigan study found last year.

Disrupted sleep saps your energy for dealing with the demands of caregiving, says Cleveland Clinic geriatrician Ronan Factora, M.D. Brain scans of sleep-deprived patients in the University of California, Berkeley's sleep lab also found that brain measures of anxiety shot up by more than 60 percent in those who were the most fatigued. So adopt good sleep habits — a dark room, fewer distractions in the bedroom — for more restful sleep.

by: Candy Sagon | from: AARP The Magazine | Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013
Red stethoscope signifying long-term care.

Thanks for posting these tips
Thanks for posting these tips, charMing!
I have been dealing with
I have been dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer's as it has destroyed my Grandfather and has moved on to my Gandma. Here is some tips that I can give you, I hope they help! Caring for your loved one while they suffer from cognitive decline conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia can be a struggle, and putting a priority on your own needs as a caregiver can seem selfish, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. 1.Don’t try and do it all on your own: It is a common occurrence among Alzheimer’s caregivers to try and go it alone, but you must be prepared to accept help from others. Realize that help from your friends and family will lessen the weight of your own tasks and decrease the overwhelming stress. Consider contracting a non-medical caregiver and realize that you do not care any less about your loved one if you accept or actively seek out assistance. 2. Knowledge is power: Understanding your loved one’s condition will undoubtedly aid in determining the care you will give. Be familiar with each stage of their disease, which one they are in and which appropriate care tips and techniques apply in order to find success through an already difficult situation. That understanding will surely serve as a platform for becoming successful Alzheimer’s caregivers. 3. Don’t throw your own needs to the wayside: Taking care of your own needs doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be sacrificed in order to be an effective caregiver. Did you know that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rack up billions of their own medical bills each year? With this in mind it is especially important to make sure you are keeping yourself healthy and active both as a caregiver and as a human being. Be sure to do something for yourself on a regular basis and understand that while you care for your loved one, you are allowed to focus on your own health and happiness as well. Keep in mind that these ideas are only the tip of the iceberg and each situation will be unique. Alzheimer’s caregivers undergo an immense amount of stress and while it is a heavy burden to bear, these tips may help lessen your load.
Good tips!
Good tips!
Great points, all! Thank you
Great points, all! Thank you for sharing! We can't forget to take care of ourselves while we take care of those we love. I've recently written a memoir called What Would Nola Do? What My Mother Taught Me about Showing Up, Being Present and the Art of Caregiving. 3 years of my life as a caregiver to my mom with dementia, my son with Down syndrome and my friend with a traumatic brain injury -- I learned a LOT that I hope to share with my readers. My book hits the stands in May -- I hope you'll visit my facebook page and give it a "like" -- thank you.
Very good tips...
Very good tips...
These are all good. I'd like
These are all good. I'd like to add a couple more: 1) It's helpful to have interests outside disability and caregiving. This reminds you that you--yes, you, even in the caregiving capacity--are an interesting and interested person. It keeps you learning new things. It gives you something to talk about beside health issues (which really aren't that interesting to outsiders). Portable hobbies such as needlecrafts are handy for those quiet moments waiting for medical appointments or at the hospital bedside. 2) Pursuing your faith is tremendously helpful. If you can't leave your loved one to get to your church or place of worship, there are ways to connect with others of your same faith online. Along the lines of meditation, your times of personal prayer and Bible study can be highly renewing. 3) Laugh. If you are the main person your loved one spends time with, make sure you are as pleasant to be around as you can. Laughter goes a long way in diffusing tension. 4) Much as I hate keeping records, keep records, especially when dealing with outside resources (can you say SSI?). Keep a log of phone calls, dates, the person you spoke with. When you need to present a calm and unbiased case for your person, and you will at some point, having this information in one place will help you stay grounded and objective. Just knowing you have this information and knowing you have the power to stay objective is very much a stress reliever. 5) Count your blessings. We all have them, no matter how small they may seem. If there is any way to view a challenge from a new angle so that its silver lining is exposed, that is good too. For example, my adult daughter does not walk or wheel her own self...which means I never have to worry about her being somewhere she ought not be. What a relief!