This month, we want to recognize all of the love, support, and sacrifices caregivers make everyday. You do amazing work empowering, assisting, and advocating for your loved one. While you spend so much time and effort caring for someone else, we want to remind you to also take time to take care of YOU! Here are our top 5 tips for caregivers to maintain your own health and wellness.
Find a support system. Whether it be a family member, close friends, a community group you are a part of, or a formal caregiver support group, find someone you can talk to and feel comfortable sharing with; you are not alone! The Wisconsin Parkinson Association is starting a virtual caregiver support group for caregivers of people with Parkinson’s Disease. The Aging and Disability Resource Center in your community has resources for caregivers and information about local support groups. Caregiver.org is a website with resources and information for caregivers.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Even if your loved one requires someone to be around most or all of the time, it doesn’t mean that you have to be with them 24/7. Ask a friend or family member to come and spend time with them if you need a few hours to run errands, go to an appointment, or just spend some time doing something you enjoy. There are also agencies that can help arrange a paid caregiver as needed, if friends or family aren’t available.
Take time to exercise. Exercise has many health benefits, including helping to reduce stress and improve mood. Whether it be taking a walk, joining an exercise group, or playing your favorite sport, taking time to exercise on a regular basis will help you maintain your health and wellness.
Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important for health and wellness. If you aren’t sleeping well or enough, it makes it even more difficult to care for someone else. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try using a nighttime routine that will help you relax, such as using meditation, aroma therapy, deep breathing, reading a book, or another activity that you find relaxing.
Treat yourself with grace. Caregiving is hard work. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and exhausting. There might be times you don’t do or say exactly the perfect thing and it’s easy to feel guilty or insufficient. There might be times you feel angry or frustrated. In times like these, take a few moments, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it’s ok to not be perfect because no one is, and that you are doing the best that you can.