If you care for someone at home, life can be very tough for both of you. Caring is a full-time job, which sometimes becomes round-the-clock. If you care for a family member, it can be really difficult to find time for you and your personal needs. But if you don’t take the time to ensure your own health, you may find yourself out of action with no backup plan.
Taking care of you still needs to be a priority if you are a carer for someone else. It is physically, emotionally and mentally draining to be a carer. There is no financial reward, and some patients are unable to thank you for all your hard work. It can be lonely and even quite depressing to do this valuable work you are devoted to.
It’s important you have plenty of opportunities for breaks. You need to be able to let of steam too. Becoming part of a carer’s support network locally or through social media can give you an outlet. It can also help assure you that you’re not alone in this. Your feelings are common, and not something to be ashamed of. You may even be able to meet up with some of the people you meet this way to create new personal friendships.
Looking after your body is important too. Don’t take on lifting if you can help it. Instead, use professional patient lifting solutions to save your back and neck. Lifting your patient two or three times a day is very risky. You may end up with strained muscles or aching joints. This will then limit your ability to care for your loved one.
You should also take time out for long walks, jogging, and gym workouts. Keeping fit is important for your body, but it also helps your ability to cope emotionally. It is also something done by you for you. A workout can be valuable ‘me’ time. Everybody needs it at least once a day, so don’t be ashamed to have that hour or two to yourself.
When you’re busy caring for others, it can be easy to neglect your own meals. It is often necessary to puree meals and then feed the patient. This can take a substantial amount of time and patience. The last thing you probably want to do after that is to cook another meal. Convenience foods and snacks are not good meal substitutes. You must eat well to ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need. Empty calories can affect your mood as well as your weight.
When you care for someone you live with it can be really hard to switch off from that role. The thought of taking a holiday away from your loved one may fill you with horror. But it can be just the thing you need to do to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the world again. Professional carers can be provided by charity organisations so the bill can be more affordable. The person you’re caring for might also enjoy something different in their routine for a while.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t feel guilty about taking a timeout. Make some time for you today so you can be the best carer you need to be.