10 tips for being a healthy caregiver
Too often, caregivers spend so much time caring for others’ needs that they neglect their own. Follow these 10 tips to be an effective and healthy caregiver
About to be a caregiver?
- Talk with your parents about end-of-life plans: It might seem morbid, but often the elderly appreciate having their wishes acknowledged. If possible, get it in writing so that there is no confusion if and when the time for assisted living arrives.
- Hold a family meeting to discuss allotment of responsibilities.
- Be open: ‘Families turn themselves inside out to keep a parent out of a nursing home, when it may be the best place for them,’ says Amy D’Aprix, a Toronto-based gerontological social worker.
- Research your parent’s medical condition so you can ask the right questions when you’re looking for a nursing home.
- Tap into government resources, starting with your region’s community care access centre.
- Accept help. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel resentful of your situation so let others assist where they can’time off for you is important too!
- Stay connected to your friends, and spend one-on-one time with your partner and kids.
Already a caregiver?
- Let guilt go. That’s the advice of Karen Lantela, family consultant for The Briton House Retirement Centre in Toronto. ‘You’re doing as much as you can,’ she says. ‘Acknowledge anger, resentment and fear’and then let them go, too.’
- Be careful to stay healthy yourself; experts say caregiving can often put your own health at risk. (When doctors diagnose patients with Alzheimer’s disease, for example, they warn family members that caregivers get sick more often than non-caregivers.)
- Laugh! Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, helping to relieve stress and brighten our outlook.