Dr. Cheryl Greenberg, Ed.D., works as a coach, or guide, for seniors and their families as they consider and plan for changes in their personal and work lives. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-202-5669.
There are almost 66 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Not nurses, doctors, and CNAs. Sixty-six million unpaid providers caring for children, parents, partners and siblings.
What a generous contribution each of these people makes to the wellbeing of a loved one!
In fact, care providers often say that they not only want to support their family, but they also think of it as a privilege to do this work … a gift of time, connection and giving for both the care provider and the “caree.”
Still, as generous as their work is, it can take a toll. Caregiving can cause physical, financial, and emotional stress. So, how can caregivers care for themselves?
Let’s look at some ideas for the care provider (and for the loved one, if possible).
Finances: Knowing about Expenses in Advance
- Plan ahead for health-related expenses.
- Enroll in appropriate health insurance and long term care policies.
- Learn about community and governmental assistance programs.
- Have a financial power of attorney in place.
Physical: Staying Healthy and Fit
- Plan healthy meals, perhaps guided by the Mediterranean diet … meals that include healthy but limited fat, protein and carbohydrates, minimal salt and sugar, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly … at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of good sleep every night.
Emotional: Finding Balance
- Schedule regular deep breathing, meditation, yoga or tai chi to reduce stress and increase flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health.
- Share your experiences and feelings with others. Feel their support and understanding.
- Ask others for specific help, whether it is preparing meals, mowing the lawn, or spending time with your loved one.
- Most importantly, take time away from caregiving to enjoy another activity that brings you joy . . . a visit with a friend, an adventure movie, sitting by a lake.
Care providers can support others while caring for themselves!