Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
December 19, 2014
As anyone who has ever cared for another individual knows, caregiving can be a full-time job. When caring for someone with memory loss, the duties can be constant, from assisting with daily hygiene, providing meals and medications to transporting an individual to scheduled appointments, your life’s work can become the care of your loved one.
But who is taking care of you? In order to be a successful caregiver, you need to take care of yourself. Neglecting your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs can affect your health and, in turn, affect your loved one.
The Family Caregiver Support Project, Northwest Regional Council/Area Agency on Aging, offers the following Caregiver Bill of Rights:
- To take care of myself – to rest when I’m tired, to eat well and to take breaks from caregiving when I need them.
- To recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
- To seek help from family, involved parties and the community at large.
- To socialize, maintain my interests and do the things I enjoy.
- To acknowledge my feelings, whether positive or negative, including frustration, anger and depression, and to express them constructively.
- To take pride in the valuable work I do, and to applaud the courage and inventiveness it takes to meet the needs of my care receiver.
Asking for help can be difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. For the free online guide “Caring with Confidence; A Self-Help Guide for Your Caregiving Journey,” go to: www.tcaging.org/c_guide.htm. Also, check the resources listed below:
Your Support Network
Caring for another individual is a lonely, often emotional task. You may feel anger, fear, sadness, fatigue and love all at the same time. It’s important to build a support network for yourself where you can share your worries, learn from those who have dealt with similar situations and just know that there are others standing beside you as you journey through this new territory. Most communities have a wide variety of caregiver support groups. Check with the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org; the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alzmndak.org; local clergy or the social service department of local hospitals. And don’t forget to ask others. Sometimes word-of-mouth is the best source of caregiver support groups.