Chronic illness has become a major issue in the U.S. in recent years. According to the National Health Council, approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of the country, are currently affected by chronic disease, and that number is expected to grow to an estimated 157 million Americans by 2020. When it comes to caregiving, we’re often concerned with how to care for seniors who are living with chronic conditions, like diabetes, COPD, dementia, etc., but what happens when it’s the person providing the care who has the chronic illness?
Caring for a loved one is demanding and stressful, but can be even more challenging when the family caregiver has a chronic illness too. Chronic conditions like diabetes and COPD are also stressful and demanding in their own right, and family caregivers who are living will these types of conditions need to take extra measures to ensure they are caring for themselves.
The following are ways in which caregivers with chronic diseases can keep up with their loved ones’ care and their own health:
- Practice self-care. The stress of caregiving coupled with the stress of caring for a chronic illness can take a big toll on a family caregiver’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Practicing self-care is incredibly important for caregivers with chronic illness as it helps them relax and regain balance. Small things like taking a hot bath, meditating, taking a yoga class, or sitting down for coffee with close friends can help caregivers relieve stress and feel refreshed.
- Keep up with doctors’ appointments. Just as a caregiver strives to ensure his senior loved one is going to her doctors’ appointments, the same needs to happen for the family caregiver, especially if he suffers from a chronic illness. Keeping up with doctors’ appointments and taking prescribed medications on time and correctly are essential for the caregiver’s health and wellbeing.
- Have a backup plan. As a senior’s care needs progress, so do the demands of the family caregiver. For example, a senior who falls and injures herself may now need lifting and transferring assistance, which can be difficult, if not impossible, for a family caregiver with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s important to have a backup care plan for the progressing care needs of your loved one, and for the times when you as the caregiver need to take a break for your own health needs. Respite care services, like those offered by Nightingale’s caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, can help family caregivers take time off to care for themselves while ensuring their loved ones get the care and attention they need.
While caregivers are amazing people, they aren’t super human, and it’s vital to ensure they keep their own care needs in check as well as their senior loved ones’. If you’re caring for a senior loved one and could use a helping hand, contact Nightingale Homecare’s professional caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas to learn how we can be there for you.