By Janet Kuebler
First, Dad needed help monitoring his daily medications. Soon, he needed regular at-home care. If you are a primary family caregiver, you understand the
tough sacrifices and rewards of helping your elderly loved one with daily routines such as bathing, dressing and eating, or making medical and financial
Yet, without realizing it, your efforts to comfort and support your senior may be eroding your own health with an elevated risk of high blood pressure,
stroke, diabetes and anxiety. Stress from caring for an aging loved one also can increase the likelihood of headaches, disruptive sleep and depression.
To help, try the following caregiver stress busters:
Refresh your own health. Exercise at the gym or go for a brisk walk a few times a week. Be sure you maintain good nutrition and sleep
habits. Check in with your own doctor on annual exams and ways to support your own optimal health.
Recruit help. Enlist the support of family members, friends and neighbors who can lend caregiving help. Also, rely on regular respite
breaks through the assistance of professional in-home care such as Right at Home.
Stay connected. Keep up your own family connections and friendships. Having a confidant who listens to you is crucial as you navigate
the unknowns and challenges of caring for another person. Local or online caregiver support groups are another beneficial way to learn with others
about realistic expectations and goals to prevent caregiver burnout.
Continue with your own life. To maintain balance, it's important to stay active with your own interests, hobbies and social groups. Don't
skip the fun events or forgo your normal faith and community activities.
Relieving stress regularly – before health issues arise – safeguards your loved one's care and preserves your relationship with them – one shared meal,
one doctor's report and one fond memory at a time.
What family caregiver stress busters have you found that help?