Caring for an aging loved one can be a gratifying way to bond with a senior parent in their sunset years; however, it can also be a very stressful time. Caregiver stress is a real concern, and when caring for others, it’s crucial to take time to care for yourself. Neglecting to do so can result in emotional overwhelm and physical exhaustion. Use these 10 ideas to make sure your stress levels stay well-managed:
1. Get organized. Techniques like making lists, keeping a calendar and setting alerts on your smartphone can help you to and stay on top of all that needs to be done. Learn to prioritize your tasks throughout the day and do the most pressing things first.
2. Delegate. You don’t have to go it alone; recruit other family members to help with caring for your loved one. Even those who live across the country can help with things like research, making phone calls, etc.
3. Medical alert technology. If you can’t be there 24/7, enlist the services of a medical alertmonitoring company. A medical alert monitoring system provides round-the-clock medical monitoring to keep your loved one safe at home. You’ll have more peace of mind even when you’re not able to be with your elderly relative.
4. Good nutrition. Make you sure you don’t neglect your own needs for a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritiously and drink plenty of filtered water. Avoid too many carbs, sweets and alcoholic beverages.
5. Regular exercise. Exercise daily, even if it’s just a ten or fifteen minute walk. If you can walk out in nature such as in a park or near a body of water, even better.
6. Rest and self-care. Get plenty of sleep, and don’t neglect your own routine medical checkups. Take breaks when you need to and have another family member fill in. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed, seek counseling to deal with anxiety or depression.
7. Utilize outside resources. Making use of services like home health care aides, home repair services, and other tasks you can outsource can make your caregiving role less stressful. See if your church or community center has volunteers who can help you with cooking, visiting your loved one, or driving them to appointments.
8. Learn relaxation techniques. Find ways to relax during your down time. Reading a book, walking in nature, prayer, meditation, journaling, and listening to music are just some of the ways you can recharge.
9. Stay connected. Feeling like you’re “going it alone” can increase stress levels. Make time to connect with friends regularly for lunch, a walk outdoors, or even just a phone conversation.
10. Learn to say “no.” Lastly, know your limits; you cannot do it all. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Say no when you have to, and don’t feel guilty.