Serving as a family caregiver for a senior loved one is definitely an act of love. And even though it may be rewarding, it can quickly become stressful, as a result of:
- The physical issues of a chronic health problem
- The cognitive challenges of Alzheimer’s disease
- Feeling helpless and struggling to address the older adult’s problems
- Feeling overburdened without enough time for caring for yourself
- And many other contributing factors
It is imperative for family care providers to set aside planned time every day to relax and recharge, and to help combat stress. However, prioritizing time for you to do so may seem impossible.
At Inspired Home Care, a provider of senior care in Wilmette, IL and the surrounding areas, we recognize how much stress family members have to deal with when an older loved one is in need of care. Our services benefit not only the older adults we care for, but the rest of the family as well, allowing family care providers to take the time away they need. These suggestions from our aging care specialists can help reduce stress and restore peace:
- Practice deep breathing. Breathing deeply is an excellent way to quickly calm an anxious heart. And you can practice it anywhere, whenever you want! Just settle into a comfortable, seated position, and breathe in through your nose while counting silently to five. Next, release your breath through your nose, again while silently counting to five. Repeat as often as needed until you are feeling more peaceful.
- Think intentionally. Focusing on the issues occurring at present is a normal instinct, but with some practice, you can intentionally shift your thinking to something more positive. In the midst of a stress-filled event, the positives may not be easy to find, but they are there nonetheless – even though they might be something as seemingly unimportant as the beauty of the centerpiece on the table, the lyrics to your favorite song, or even the smell of banana bread baking in the oven.
- Thank yourself. Meeting the care needs of someone else is significant work, work that is deserving of respect. It’s work that you’d thank others for doing, but are you taking time to thank yourself? Often, family care providers beat themselves up in replaying all of the mistakes they’ve made. Instead, notice the things you are doing that undoubtedly help your family member, and appreciate yourself for the kindnesses you’re showing.
- Work out often. Physical exercise produces endorphins that provide an all-natural boost to your mental perspective. If it is challenging to set aside time for a full exercise session, it’s equally effective to split your exercise time up into smaller activities during the day. This may be as easy as parking your car in an area that is farther from a store entrance, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, or peddling on a stationary bike while talking to a loved one.
The best way to reduce stress and achieve a healthy life balance, however, is by working with a reliable in-home care agency, like Inspired Home Care. It is not always easy asking for help; but caregiving is not meant to be a one-person job.
Ongoing, regular respite care enables family caregivers to take routine time away for themselves, which in turn causes them to be more patient and effective caregivers – a significant benefit for senior loved ones. And, it gives older adults an added socialization opportunity, with a fully qualified, kind and thoughtful caregiving companion.