Our customer service team speaks to caregivers across the country everyday, and one thing is clear: growing older isn’t just hard on seniors, it’s also tough for the people who care for them on a daily basis. As a Caregiver, it’s crucial that you take the time everyday to maintain your own health--for your parent, your spouse, your children, your friends, and most importantly, for yourself! Here are some tips to help you stay centered while you are caring for a loved one.
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 everyday 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. 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.
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 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 understand what this will entail. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the actions you will have to take, it might be worth it to consider bringing in an expert. Medicare often covers some of these expenses and it will help preserve both your sanity and the memory of your loved one after they are gone.
Start A Journal
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 everyday. Try to take time each week to write about what you are experiencing and how it makes you feel. Keep it 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.