Caregivers often mistakenly believe that the majority of their effort, attention, focus, and love must be directed exclusively to the loved one in their care. While this is an admirable approach, consider the expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Caregivers must place a priority on caring for and nurturing themselves in mind, body, and spirit before they can direct that same attention and care to the loved one in their care.
Allocating time to take care of yourself doesn’t not make you a selfish person. To the contrary, this “my time” is the fuel that allows the caregiver to “pour” love to others. Without practicing proper self-care, you are on the path to caregiver burnout.
Tips for Providing Great Care to Yourself as a Caregiver
Being the caregiver of someone you love is a big responsibility. It requires time, patience, and understanding. It is a significant commitment and that means you need to first take care of yourself so that you can sustain the care without getting worn down.
Understand Your Loved One’s Plight
It might be helpful to research the symptoms of the person you are caring for in order to better understand what they go through on a daily basis. Reach out to healthcare professionals and ask questions about symptoms and care management practices. Feeling run down and tired from being a caregiver is understandable, but your loved one might be dealing with a whole lot more. Use your empathy and compassion to establish a better perspective of what the loved one is going through. Better understanding your loved one will also make you a more effective caregiver. For example, if the caregiver understands that confusion and stubbornness are symptoms of Alzheimer’s and not willful behaviour, the caregiver will not waste effort and energy on feeling angry, frustrated, and exasperated with their loved one. Understanding certain reactions from the loved one are the products of an illness and not a reflection of the loved one’s true feelings can make the process easier.
Take a Break
The importance of taking a break cannot be overstated. Whether you need to sit down for twenty minutes during the day or take a weekend to yourself, it’s vital that you do what is necessary to ensure you’ll be able to carry on. Do not exhaust yourself or grind yourself down. Even short breaks can be refreshing.
Your loved one is going through a hard time and needs a committed caregiver, but that doesn’t mean they need a superhero. Try not to feel so guilty about your loved one’s plight, and understand that it is just a part of life. Seeking inner peace is a great way to practice self-care.
Find Ways to Have Fun
Getting a few minutes to rest or taking a day off might be impossible sometimes, so you’ll have to find some ways to laugh through it all. Read a book, watch a movie in the background, or share a story with your loved one. Remember: laughter is the best medicine.
For more information about caregiver self-care, Qualicare Family Homecare is here to help. Give us a call at 613.366.2899 and we’d be happy to help.