Today was one for the books. Your loved one resisted your every request, wandered halfway to the sidewalk before you noticed she was missing, and there wasn’t anything “fine” about today’s dining experiences. You deserve to treat yourself to a long bubble bath and a box of bonbons for a job well done.
No, really. You do.
“Any day that ends with a caregiver having done his or her best is a job well done,” says Suzy McCann, Community Relations Director of YourLifeTM of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, Florida.
Besides, she adds, self-care isn’t something caregivers earn; it’s something they require, and on tough days, they might require a double dose.
“Many caregivers feel selfish or guilty about taking time for themselves,” notes McCann. “But it’s no secret that a caregiver’s health and well-being directly impact their loved one’s quality of care. So, if unwinding with a long soak after a stressful day is what helps you get a better night’s sleep and puts you in a better frame of mind to care for your loved one, that’s not selfish. It’s a win-win.”
This post will explore the importance of self-care, overcoming obstacles to self-care, and finding what works for you.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CAREGIVERS NEGLECT THEIR OWN NEEDS?
In the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP report Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, 23% of caregivers said caregiving has made their own health worse, nearly 20% report experiencing physical strain, and almost 40% experience emotional stress due to caregiving duties.
Estimates also show that between 40 and 70% of caregivers have significant symptoms of depression, and caregivers are twice as likely to have one or more chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, and a tendency to be overweight.
This is not surprising when you consider prolonged stress, sleep deprivation, inadequate attention paid to their own nutrition or exercise needs, and failure to visit their doctors when necessary.
RELATED: 10 Symptoms of Caregiver Stress
Okay, so you’re fully aware of the importance of self-care, but are you still finding it difficult to ask a family member to visit with your loved one while you, for example, go to your own doctor for a checkup? Are you hesitant to enroll your loved one in an adult day center a few times a week so you can go to your grandchild’s ballgame or recital, read a book, enjoy a round of golf, or whatever it is that will clear your mind and renew your energy?
If so, the Family Caregiver Alliance suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Do you think you are being selfish if you put your needs first?
- Is it frightening to think of your own needs? What is the fear about?
- Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help?
Sometimes caregivers have misguided thoughts that get in the way of good self-care, including:
- If I don’t do it, no one will.
- Our family always takes care of its own.
- I promised my father I would always take care of my mother.
If any of this sounds familiar, check out guilt-free ways to ask for help and take a break in The Caregiver Balancing Act post by our sister community in Coconut Creek, FL.
RELATED: Avoiding Caregiver Martyr Syndrome
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Self-care is a remarkably flexible term used to describe any activity people use to soothe, heal, or preserve themselves in high-stress environments. For some, that’s bonbons and bubble baths. For others, it’s an hour at the gym, lunch with friends, or meditation. For others still, it’s keeping their own doctor’s appointments, going to a support group, or eating well and getting enough rest. Most self-care plans will contain multiple activities.
The key is to identify where you could use a bit – or a lot – of TLC you need to preserve your physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. Use this Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire to help determine where you might focus your self-care efforts.
RELATED: 12 Self-Care Tips For Busy People
Remember, it’s not selfish to make time for your own needs and happiness – it’s essential to providing the best care and quality of life for your loved one, too.
Ready to take a well-deserved break from caregiving? Ask about our Respite Stay program at YourLife™ of Pensacola today. 850-290-2632
The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.
Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles.
Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unmatched peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible.
At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you.
Call us at 850-290-2632 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.