By Mailo Brantner, NP-C

As a caregiver, it is easy to forget about yourself. Below are some great tips to help put you back on the priority list to help you cope and recharge so you can continue to be an effective caregiver to your loved ones. Commit to at least a few of the following recommendations.

  1. Ask for help: Remind yourself that it is ok to delegate tasks or ask for help from friends, family or local resources. Prepare a list of caregiving activities you could use help with, and when someone offer to help, refer to the list. By having a list handy is easier to ask or allow others to help. You may want to consider hiring an in-home caregiver a few hours each week to allow you to take care of your own personal needs or consider enrolling your older adult in an adult day program or look into local respite care programs.
  2. Take time for yourself every day: It’s important to take mini breaks to help you recharge and reduce stress. Do a mini walk for fresh air, read a book, magazine, or listen to audiobook to take your mind off things. Remember to do something just for you, “me” time is important to re-energize yourself. Commit to doing at least one thing you enjoy every day. Consider using a time management tool to help with short breaks and manage caregiving tasks.
  3. Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is important for your overall well-being while lack of sleep can negatively impact your health. As a caregiver who is juggling myriad responsibilities, it’s even tougher to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Learn to delegate or ask for help so you can be rest up to avoid burnout and/or exhaustion.
  4. Prioritize your own physical and mental health: Caregivers are often burden with chronic stress which put them at increased risk for many serious illnesses. It’s important to get the care you need by keeping your important medical appointments. Stay healthy so you can continue to be an effective caregiver.
  5. Connect with friends and family: Don’t lose touch with those who care about you. Contact them by phone, video chats, and/or have a coffee or a meal together. It’s easy to get wrapped up in caregiving duties, make a point to create fond memories with loved ones or simply just stay connected. It’s important to spend quality time with your close friends and family to help lift up your spirit and energy.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself credit and shake off any self-criticism or guilt that you may have. Use any verbal or visual reminders daily that you are doing the best you can for your loved one given the circumstances.
  7. Plan for your loved one’s future care: Future medical care discussions are not easy, but it’s important to take the time to discuss and have a clear understanding of your loved one’s medical wishes. It will be a little easier when your help is need to make these decisions. Work with your loved one to establish a health care proxy and provide copies to all healthcare providers.