Sunday, November 18, 2012

Help For Caregivers - Reduce Caregiver Stress



If you are a Baby Boomer who is caring for elderly relatives in your home there are times, especially during the winter holidays, that may be especially stressful. 

In addition to being a caregiver for a senior citizen in your family, you may still have children living in your home.  If you do, they may expect holiday decorations, gifts and special meals that you feel they expect you to prepare.  If your children are adults, they may still assume you will put on the traditional holiday events they loved as children. 

In other cases, adult children may want you to come visit them and spend time with your grandchildren or other family members. 

All of these conflicting demands on your time can make your role as caregiver for an elderly parent or relative seem like a particularly heavy burden during the holidays.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the stress that you are feeling as a caregiver, there are steps you can take to minimize your stress so you can actually enjoy your holidays and the time you spend with the rest of your family.

How to Reduce Caregiver Stress

Below are a few actions you should take, if possible, to relieve the stress you are experiencing.

Talk to your other family members and ask them to help you out.  If they want your home to be decorated, ask them to do it, especially if you still have teenagers or young adults living at home.  Heap praise on them, even if their efforts do not quite measure up to what you have done in the past.

Do not be a martyr, if you can avoid it.  For example, if there is a special event you want to attend, such as a child's school performance or dinner at a relative's home, do not feel that you will never be able to go.  Whenever possible, make the necessary arrangements.  Here are some ways you can manage that:

   * Ask friends or other family members if they can sit with your elderly relative for a few hours. 
   * Call an agency and see if you can temporarily hire a paid caregiver. 
   * Contact local nursing homes and see if they have a respite program where you can leave your family member for a few days and give yourself a break.  These respite programs are especially helpful when you want to take a trip to visit other family members.

See what services are available in your community to help you.  If you are feeling overwhelmed at of the year, call your local senior center and ask if they have an adult day care program.  Many communities offer these services for a very low fee.  Often elderly adults who suffer from dementia, depression, and other mental and physical problems really enjoy these adult daycare programs because of the opportunity it gives them to meet other senior citizens, while working on arts and crafts with their new friends.  In fact, these programs have been shown to significantly lift the spirits of many seniors.  Just as important, they give caregivers the time they need to take care of themselves.

Do not feel as though you need to use any free time you carve out to care for everyone else in your family.  Instead, when you get help, spend at least part of the time taking care of yourself.   Get your nails or hair done.  Sign up for a yoga or exercise class.  Socialize with friends.  Take a nap.  Read a novel.  Caregivers need to take time to energize themselves.  If they don't, they will eventually discover that they are too overwhelmed to care for anyone else.  Put yourself first every chance you get.

Take advantage of all the local services you can.  For example, if you are hosting a holiday dinner in your home, feel free to order a precooked meal.  Other services you should check out are grocery delivery, dry cleaning pick up, online banking, mail order prescriptions, etc.  Set up your life so that you need to do as few mundane errands as possible.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep.  Do not get up before dawn or stay up after everyone else has gone to bed in order to clean your house, wrap Christmas presents, prepare meals or do anything else.  Your sleep is more important than these chores.

If you want to be able to care for anyone else, you need to care for yourself.  Otherwise, you may end up sick and in need of a caregiver, too.  This is definitely a risk we take when we spend too much time putting others ahead of ourselves all the time.  You are important, too!

You may also be interested in reading:

Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Aging and Tips to Prevent Hip Injuries
Living with your Kids

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo courtesy of www.morguefile.com

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  2. It's a tremendous responsibility to care for the elderly at home. You've offered some great ideas to help caregivers care for themselves.

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