Usually in this section of the magazine, we talk about gadgets and gizmos that make life easier for older people. But this time, we want to tell you about ways to make your life easier if you spend a lot of time caring for someone else.
Taking care of someone else is hard work. Whether you take care of someone pretty much all the time, or whether you squeeze it into your day between your job and caring for other family members, if you're a primary caregiver you may often feel exhausted.
When you work too hard and it seems like you’re always
on the go, you might begin to feel a lot of stress. You may feel sad. You might
not get enough sleep. If you feel this way for a long time, it's easier for
you to get sick. Caregivers who are working too hard, without help, can be more
likely to develop high blood pressure, heart problems, arthritis, headaches
and other health issues.
Everybody needs time to relax and enjoy life. That's the best
way to take care of yourself. But it can be hard to find the time, and it's
hard to find the help.
Things caregivers should do for themselves
The things that caregivers should do for themselves are the same things that everyone should do to stay healthy and happy:
- Eat well
- Exercise regularly
- Spend time with people you enjoy
- Go to the doctor for checkups and for health problems
- Take the time to simply relax
But to do these things, you need time and help!
► How to get help with caregiving
- Sometimes, the people around you, including other family members, may not
offer to help. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask. You may have to make
specific requests, such as, 'Can you go to the grocery store for Dad once
a week?' or 'Can you take Mom out one afternoon a week?' Whatever it is you
need, ask your family members, if you haven't asked them already.
- If you are the only person who can take care of your loved one, there are groups and other people that can help caregivers. You can:
—Ask your loved one's doctor to tell you about groups in your area that help caregivers.
—Go to a senior center and ask if they can give you information about help for caregivers.
—Get in touch with the National Alliance for Caregiving.
People who work there can help you find the kinds of help you need. Visit their
Web site: http://www.caregiver.org.
There's a place on the Web site that lets you choose the state you live in,
and provides information about help that's available in every state. That Web
page is: http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=1272
. The telephone number of the National Alliance for Caregiving is 301-718-8444.
Reaching out to others almost always makes you feel better.
If you know other people who are also caregivers, talk to them. Share your stories.
Talk with your friends about what's going on in your life.
Opening up to others is one way to keep yourself connected to friends and others who can provide you with the care and support that we all need.
National Alliance for Caregiving; The National Institute on Aging