Our customer service team speaks to caregivers across the country every day, and one thing is clear: growing older isn’t just hard on older adults, it’s also tough for the people who care for them on a daily basis. Caregiver stress can manifest physically if it goes untreated, including chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach and disrupted sleep. Extended periods of stress can lead to caregiver burnout, which can have serious effects on not only your physical health, but also on your emotional and mental health.
As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you take the time every day to maintain your own health—for your parent, your spouse, your children, your friends, and most importantly, for yourself! Here are some caregiver tips to help you stay centered while you are caring for a loved one.
Battle Caregiver Stress With Meditation and Yoga
Meditation is defined as the practice in which an individual trains their mind, or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit, or as an end in itself. Meditation is designed to help foster relaxation and reduce stress, so spending just ten minutes every day meditating can really have a big impact on your overall health.
Aside from managing anxiety and stress, meditation can have a positive impact on blood pressure, depression, heart disease, and sleep disorders among others—all dangerous side effects of caregiver stress. It’s a great way to schedule some “me time” for yourself, and the more you do it, the better you’ll feel.
Hatha yoga, one of the most common yoga practices, focuses on exercise, breathing, and meditation. If you begin to practice yoga regularly, studies have shown to improve mood and anxiety, reduce high blood pressure, improve symptoms of heart failure and lower cardiovascular risk factors. It’s great low-impact exercise and can help you stay sane during chaotic times. In other words, it’s a perfect exercise to beat caregiver stress!
Setting Boundaries To Avoid Caregiver Burnout
Many caregivers feel a sense of obligation, especially if they are taking care of an aging parent. But it’s important to set boundaries, both for yourself and for your parent. The role reversal of a child taking care of a parent can become complicated and lead to feelings of resentment and serious complications of caregiver burnout unless you become clear about your own personal boundaries early on in the process.
This is the time to create a safe space for yourself--if you begin the process of caregiving by saying “yes” to everything your loved one is requesting, you are setting a precedent that will end up hurting you in the long run. If your loved one needs physical help--walking, going to the bathroom, etc., contact a professional to better understand what this will entail and figure out if you can hire someone to help. Medicare often covers some of these expenses and it will help prevent caregiver burnout in the long run.
Start A Journal To Help Navigate Your Emotions
Journaling is a great way to experience an emotional catharsis on a regular basis. It can be taxing to carry the emotional weight of caring for a loved one around with you every day. Try to take time each day or week to write about what you are experiencing and how it makes you feel.
Keep your journal in a private place--you don’t have to share your intimate thoughts and feelings with anyone if you do not want to. Journaling can also help you work through complicated emotions that you might not understand as you are experiencing them. The act of writing, and being able to go back and review your thoughts and feelings, can help bring clarity to your emotional experience and help you work through a difficult time. Being aware of what you are feeling throughout the experience can help you identify when you are feeling extra stressed and help you ward off caregiver burnout.
Find Peace of Mind With Medical Guardian
Even with the caregiver tips listed above, the stress of having a loved one become so dependent on your care can weigh you down mentally and physically. While bringing in a professional full-time caregiver might not be within your family’s budget, a medical alert device is a great--and cost-effective--alternative.
Medical Guardian offers a wide range of products that cater to a variety of lifestyles and budgets. In addition to providing reliable 24/7 service to your loved one, a Medical Guardian medical alert system can also help alleviate caregiver stress by providing you with the peace of mind of knowing your loved one will be taken care of if you cannot be physically present to assist them in an emergency.