Tips for Taking Care of a Caregiver

As Michigan estate planning and elder law attorneys, we know that caregivers are exceptional individuals. They often sacrifice their time and resources to ensure their loved ones remain healthy and happy. However, a caregiver needs to take care of himself or herself too. Below are several tips for new caregivers and seasoned caregivers that can help you maintain a balance between maintaining your well-being and taking care of another person.

Are You New to Caregiving?

If you are new to caregiving, it can help to learn as much as you can about your loved one’s health and needs. The more you learn about the person’s health, the less stressed you will feel about providing care. It can often help to know that you are not alone. Join an online or local support group for caregivers. You can learn a lot about elder care and the role of caregivers from those who have been in this role for some time. Furthermore, you can connect with other caregivers who can provide support when you feel overwhelmed.

You need to understand your limits and be realistic about how much care you can offer your loved one. Taking on too much can result in burnout and stress. You must set clear limits for yourself and enlist the help of others to fill in the gaps for you. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help — it is a sign of strength.

Know the Signs of Burnout

Caregivers can quickly become burned out and overwhelmed when they are trying to provide care for a loved one while working and taking care of other family members. By knowing the signs of burnout, you can take steps to prevent harming your health or well-being.

Signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Depression and feeling sad
  • Anxiety and always feeling worried or overwhelmed
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol, including over-the-counter sleeping pills
  • Getting angry or frustrated easily or often
  • Gaining weight or losing weight without another explanation
  • Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep
  • Losing interest in hobbies or other enjoyable activities
  • Often missing work or family activities
  • Frequently experiencing headaches, aches, or pains

AARP has information and resources for caregivers on their website. You can also get information and find resources from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, especially the Aging & Adult Services Agency (AASA).

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

It is easy to become stressed and tired when you are a full-time caregiver. There are things you can do to take care of yourself to avoid becoming burned out, physically ill, or depressed.

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest. It is important for your health, in addition to giving you the strength and ability to care for your loved one. Seven to eight hours of sound sleep each night is recommended for adults.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. It may be tempting to eat drive-thru meals on your way to check on your loved one, but this is unhealthy. You need to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Consult with your family physician to determine the best diet for your current health.
  • Accept help from others. You should not try to do this alone. Have a list of things someone can do to help, so you are prepared when someone offers help. Remember, you can ask for help too. Your family and friends may not know you need help unless you speak up.
  • Exercise each week to maintain your physical well-being. Exercise is not only a way to stay physically fit — it is a terrific way to spend time socializing with others.
  • Take up a hobby and make time for it. Hobbies can reduce stress and give you something to enjoy doing during downtime when your loved one is resting.
  • Investigate services in your area that your loved one is eligible to receive. Many of these services can provide some of the care for your family member allowing you more time for yourself.
  • Have regular check-ups for yourself. You need to stay healthy if you expect to take care of someone else.
  • Remain social by going out with friends and family. Understand that you may feel guilty about leaving your loved one; however, you need time for yourself too. If your loved one cannot be left alone, hiring a professional caregiver can give you a break.

If you are feeling burned out, overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated, there are people you can turn to for help. Sources of help can include family members, church members, social workers, local elder care organizations, support groups, and counselors. Talk to your doctor or your family member’s doctor about getting help for yourself and your loved one.

The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA

One of the best ways to maintain your well-being while caring for another person is to keep balance in your life. One way to reduce stress is to ensure your loved one has an estate plan in place that takes care of end-of-life decisions and estate matters.

Our Michigan elder care lawyers can help your loved one with all matters regarding estate planning, Medicaid planning, planning for incapacitation, and healthcare directives. Contact our office by calling 888-390-4360 or use our online contact form to request more information or schedule an appointment with our Michigan estate planning attorney.

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