November is National Family Caregivers Month, an annual celebration honoring those who provide care and support for a loved one in a time of need. This year’s theme, “Take Care to Give Care,” is encouraging people to maintain their own health when serving as a caregiver.
Caregiving can be a rewarding experience. However, the experience can also be emotionally and physically challenging. With 90 million active caregivers in the U.S., the health issues associated with caregiving affect a sizable number of our nation’s population.
To combat the stresses of caregiving, we are encouraging those supporting a loved one to maintain their own health. Here are three tips for maintaining your health as a caregiver:
National Family Caregivers Month- Caregiver Health Tip #1: Ask For Help
When a loved one is sick, we do all we can to help. However, the daily routine of caregiving can often be too much for one person to manage. Scheduling doctor appointments and managing medications may become too much for you to handle on your own. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the process, turn to another family member or close friend to help you take on some of the responsibilities of caregiving.
National Family Caregivers Month- Caregiver Health Tip #2: Ask Your Community
It is important to understand that you are not alone. Plenty of other people are going through the same stresses of caregiving as you. Reach out to your community to learn about any caregiving services offered. Transportation and meal delivery can help relieve the some of the stress. Also, consider joining a support group to talk with others. Talking to others may even lead to new friendships.
National Family Caregivers Month- Caregiver Health Tip #3: Set Health Goals
While you may feel the need to give all your attention to the health of your loved one, it is important you set health goals for yourself. Eat plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to help boost your mood. Adopting a new exercise routine can also help you manage stress while also helping you improve your physical health. Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure you are well rested and ready to take on each day.
To learn more about how you can maintain your health as a caregiver, check out Mayo Clinic’s Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself.