Caring for a senior loved one, in the minds of those who haven’t experienced it, may seem totally manageable. How hard can it be, after all? Leisurely meals, relaxing afternoons of naps, card games, maybe a stroll around the block, stopping to smell the flowers, making your own schedule…the relaxed pace in the life of a retired senior.
The reality is, however, that caregivers have been shown to have 23% more stress hormones than non-caregivers, along with 15% less antibody responses, according to the American Psychological Association. And if the senior loved one being cared for suffers from a chronic condition, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or COPD, the strain is even greater.
If you’re responsible for your elderly loved one’s care and are feeling heightened levels of stress (which can exhibit as irritability, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or feelings of resentment towards the person in your care), try the following tips recommended by Helpguide.org:
- Share your concerns – and accept help. It’s important to let friends and family know what you’re going through and to enlist their help.
- Do something just for you. Devote at least one half-hour per day to spend on something you enjoy.
- Incorporate laughter. Laughter is a great stress-buster; choose humorous reading materials and TV shows, and talk with friends who lift your spirits.
- Boost your energy and mood. Surprisingly, exercising enhances your energy level, rather than depleting it, and improves your mood as well. Strive for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Stay nourished. While it may be tempting to grab quick meals and snacks high in sugar or caffeine, you’ll feel better longer by choosing fresh, wholesome foods like fruit, whole grains, lean meat and vegetables.
- Get away from it all. Even if it’s just going outside for a brief walk or shopping trip, make sure you’re getting away from home for periods of respite.
- Look on the bright side. In the midst of the challenges and struggles, find something positive about your caregiving role – the difference you’re making in your loved one’s life, or the strength of character you’re developing.
- Keep a broad perspective. As much time as caregiving may be taking, be sure to focus some energy on other outlets that bring meaning to your life.
- Make your own wellness a priority. You can best care for someone else when you’re in good health, so keep up with your own medical appointments and care.
- Count more sheep. Rather than cutting back on sleep to try to accomplish more, getting 8 hours of sleep reduces stress and improves your mood and energy levels.
Even the most devoted caregiver needs support to keep stress at bay. Nightingale Homecare offers Phoenix home care services that work in tandem with family caregivers, allowing for continuous, compassionate care for seniors and a time of rejuvenation for the family members providing their care. We invite you to call us at 602-504-1555 to learn more.