This blog post is a portion from my book Encouragement for Care Givers. November is Family Caregivers Awareness Month. In 2013 I retired from a twenty-five year career as an educator to care for my husband after he suffered his second stroke. It was a journey that took my entire family through a myriad of changes. I continue to pray for caregivers everywhere. While caregiving is rewarding and honorable it is difficult and requires self-care.
Get Regular Checkups
The caregiver must remain healthy. If you get sick, your loved on is in big trouble. Get regular health checkups. You are not helping the situation by avoiding the doctor. You ensure that your loved one makes every doctor’s and therapy appointment. You see to it that prescriptions are filled and picked up in a timely fashion and that all medication is given according to directions. Now, do yourself and your loved one a favor and get a checkup. The stress of being a caregiver can impede your body’s ability to function. Your immune system can be compromised. What you think is the onset of a cold could be the onset of pneumonia. Your blood pressure or glucose level might be higher than normal, wreaking havoc on your entire body. You will never know what is going on inside your body and what to do about it unless you get a checkup.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
Caregivers use a great deal of energy. That’s why it is important that you eat right. You must fuel your body with the nutrients necessary for you to properly function. You have many physical and mental task to undertake within the course of a day. Take time to eat. Eat right. For optimal performance, eat food that God created. Limit processed foods. Drink plenty of water. Take nutritional supplements as needed.
Caregivers are constantly on the move. That does not take the place of concentrated exercise. Your body needs to be strengthened inside and out. Something as simple as stretching for twenty minutes a day will get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing throughout your body. Oftentimes, caregivers are unable to go to the gym or hit the walking trail, but you can turn on your computer. There is a vast collection of exercise videos on YouTube and other sites. There are also exercise programs on some television stations. If those options are not available, the do the calisthenics you learned in your high school physical education class or walk/jog in place. The point is you need to get moving, concentrating on strengthening your own body for your own optimal health.
Be Good to Yourself
You may ask, “When do I have time to be good to myself?” You make time. During your time with God, ask him to lead you to time that is just for you. In order to care for someone else, you must be physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. Being a caregiver can take a toll on you in all three of these areas. You are not required to be a martyr. In addition to getting regular checkups be good to yourself. Do something you enjoy. Find time to laugh, time to have fun. Read or listen to a good book. Sit still for a moment. Close your eyes. Sit in the sun. Breath the fresh air. Listen to the birds sing. Relax.
Find someone to talk to. You may be thinking that there is no one in whom you can confide. Pray and ask God to send you someone who will listen to you and pray for you. Start by talking to God first. He understands your situation and is always available for you.
Spend time in solitude. Time alone gives you the opportunity to decompress. It also provides time to focus on something other than caregiving for a period of time. Most of your thought throughout the day are concerned with caring for your loved one. Practicing solitude gives your soul and your brain a much needed rest.
Sleep. The body and mind need rest. The stress and energy expended caring for another can cause damage to your body. Although there is much to do, refuse to work yourself to death. Sleeps give the body the necessary time to repair itself. God instated rest from the beginning of time. Sleep is a part of that rest.
alone and away from the situation. You need respite. Pray to God to send you the right person and to put you at ease so that you can let someone help you.
Encouragement for Care Givers is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com