As your relatives start to grow older, you might take it upon yourself to care for one or more of them. Whether they remain in their own homes or come to live with you, this is a deeply rewarding responsibility. However, when this shift in roles occurs, there is sure to be some stress involved. After all, caring is an incredibly difficult task, especially when you have a job and family. The role consumes a lot of time and energy, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. This is why it’s so important that you take care of yourself. Here are ten ways you can manage stress.
1. Learn More About Caring
Unless you have experience in the healthcare industry, caring for a senior is likely a task that you’re not familiar with. This can leave you unsure of your responsibilities or your success in the role. Thankfully, there’s no such thing as a perfect caregiver, but educating yourself on the responsibility can be helpful. This is particularly important if your relative has a health issue, like dementia. There are many courses, books, and other resources available for this purpose.
2. Make Changes At Home
When an elderly relative comes to live with you, the last thing that you want is for a hazard in your home to cause them harm. As well as putting them at risk, this will cause you a great deal of stress and guilt. For this reason, you should make changes in your house to make it safer for them. You could install handrails in the bathroom, for example, and switch to non-slip flooring. If your relative chooses to remain in their own home, then you could make these changes there.
3. Establish A Daily Routine
Caregiving tends to be a full-time job, which can be difficult when you have one already. To stay on top of all of your responsibilities, you should make a schedule for your family and establish a daily routine. You won’t always be able to stick to your plan, of course, but remaining organised in this way can help you to manage your time better and ensure that no important tasks are forgotten. Just remember to schedule some time for a little fun now and then too.
4. Speak To Your Employer
Most caregivers are reluctant to bring up their caregiving responsibilities at work, especially to their employers. There are many reasons for this, including worries that your job will be put at risk. However, depending on your location and the company you work for, you may be eligible for certain caregiving-related programs. These come with a number of benefits, including paid time off and flexible hours. Not all companies offer these programs, but there’s no harm in asking.
5. Eat A Balanced Diet
Although you probably ensure that your elderly relative eats right each day, you might not make the time to prepare your own balanced meals. If you survive on coffee and unhealthy snacks, then you probably feel sluggish, irritable, and, of course, stressed throughout the day. Caring uses up a lot of energy, which means that you need nourishing food to feel your best. Pre-preparing foods and ordering hot meals can help you to get the nutrition that you need.
6. Join A Support Network
Looking after an elderly relative can be tough, and there’s no shame in admitting it. In fact, you can benefit greatly from sharing your experiences and feelings with others going through situations similar to yours. If your relative is suffering from a disease, like dementia, then support groups are one of the many dementia services on offer. Your doctor can also suggest support groups to you. Social media and online forums offer plenty of support when you need it too.
7. Find Ways To Exercise
Everyone knows that exercise is crucial for physical health, but it’s also a great stress-reliever. Because of this, you should try to get between thirty and sixty minutes of exercise most days of the week. Seniors need exercise too, so, if your relative is able to, you may want to consider getting active with them. There are many exercises you can try, such as swimming and walking. If this much activity isn’t possible, it’s much better to do some than none at all.
8. Share Out The Workload
There’s no reason why you should be the only person involved in caring for your relative. If you have friends and family around who are willing to help, then bring them on board. They could assist with the housework now and then, pick up groceries from the store, or accompany your relative to their appointments. Respite care is also an option and ensures that, even if you aren’t able to look after your relative, they have a professional around to keep them safe and healthy.
9. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Your body needs time to recover mentally and physically each night, especially when you have the huge responsibility of caring for a loved one. Developing healthy sleep habits is the first step in making sure that you get a good night’s sleep. Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, find ways to relax before bed, and develop a bedtime routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. When you’re short on sleep, you can try napping when your relative does.
10. Schedule Time To Relax
There is only so much that you can do before you completely exhaust yourself. Before it gets to this point, you need to take some time to relax and have fun. Ask someone else to watch over your relative for a few hours and head for a coffee with a friend. You can also take a bath, go for a massage, read a book, or listen to music after especially difficult days. Meditation and other relaxation methods are also beneficial and can be taught through books, videos, and classes.
Caring for an elderly relative can be tough, but, with these tips, you should be able to manage your stress.