Contributor, Janice Love, MS, Author, Certified Coach
Being a caregiver is no easy task. Often time the patient receives all the attention and the caregiver’s needs may go unnoticed. A year ago, my sister who was the primary caretaker of our widowed father, became ill and was hospitalized in critical care for over a month. Who was going to take care of our father and the caregiver who could not care for herself?
For three weeks I sat at my sister’s bedside feeling tired, afraid and alone. I soon realized I had become the caretaker guilty of neglecting my own emotional, spiritual and physical needs
Here are three suggestions for caregivers:
- Take care of your emotional health. Caregivers are at risk for clinical depression because they often mask their own feelings. Don’t neglect your mental health needs and find someone to talk to. Consider joining a support group. Find a spiritual support system.
- Take care of your physical health. Make sure you eat healthy meals and take some time for physical exercise. Take a 30 minute walk or do chair exercises. Be aware that stress can compromise your immune system and make you more susceptible to airborne viruses and other illnesses.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are willing to help so ask. Ask those you trust to cover for you a couple of hours, or allow them to cook, clean or to perform tasks you don’t have time to do.
Most of all, remember to take care of you.
Janice Love holds a BA in Psychology and MS in Biological Psychology/Health Psychology and is Director of Learning and Development for a local community health center. www.janicerlove.com