Though belonging to a family in which loved ones are willing to take on the role of a caregiver is often seen as a blessing, it is sometimes easy for families to forget that the caregiver's health should become an equally important priority.
While family members are often motivated by love when assuming the responsibility of caregiving, the effects that the role can have on a caregiver should not be overlooked or viewed as less important than the health of the recipient. If the caregiver is consumed with only taking care of a loved one and not themselves, they may eventually be unable to care for their loved one effectively, if at all.
Fortunately, there are many steps that caregivers can take in helping to maintain a healthy life while working in the emotionally and sometimes physically draining situations. The first and possibly the easiest step is to learn as much as possible about the recipient's condition. Understanding exactly what possibilities and scenarios could occur will cause caregivers to feel more confident in their abilities to provide care as well as reduce the stress or anxiety they may feel when forced to act make decisions.
Likewise, understanding the way in which the condition could change a loved one's personality could help the caregiver to be more understanding, patient as well as less sensitive to actions or words motivated by confusion or frustration by the loved one. As encouraging the recipient's independence as much as possible is also important, a deep understanding of their condition can help the caregiver to know when independence should be expected from a recipient.
Caregivers must also be sure to recognize and accept the emotions that can be caused when taking on this new responsibility. While is it good to maintain a positive disposition, it can also be helpful for caregivers to realize, accept and discuss the difficulties they are facing. Seeking out other caregivers is a great way to relate to someone and support each other, as well as learning from each other's experiences. Other places to find support include family, caregiver support groups at hospitals or online, a therapist, religious leader, caregiver organizations or organizations that seek to help those with the recipients condition.
Most of these support groups agree that worry, anger, guilt and grief are all reasonable emotions for a caregiver to experience, but should always be processed in a healthy way.
In addition to mental health, the physical health of a caregiver is also important. Luckily, caregivers can relieve stress and maintain a healthy body by making time to exercise regularly. Yoga and Tai Chi are both examples of exercise that require moderate effort and help to relieve stress. Caregivers must also stay aware of their diet and make sure to consume the good vitamins and nutrients with most meals.
If the weight of caregiving becomes too heavy or hard for a family member, it is important that they do not feel as though they are abandoning or giving up on their loved one. Caregiving is extremely hard work and can become too much for one person to handle. In that situation, it is important for the caregiver and loved one to realize extra help may be needed and accept the fact that a new plan should be considered. Many organizations provide different kinds of services and help based off of the needs of the client. For example, Home By Choice offers multiple types of help including personal care, sitter services and companion services, medication assistance, transportation and shopping, meal planning and preparation, light housekeeping and laundry, and respite care.