It is essential that you maintain your own health while caregiving so you will be better able to take caregive effectively and for a longer period of time. A healthy caregiver will avoid burnout, be better able to achieve balance in their life and be less likely to be resentful or frustrated. There are several things you can do to stay healthy, recharge and avoid becoming burnt out:
- Ensure you get sufficient sleep and eat healthily. This may seem impossible, but even a small change can make a huge difference.
- Schedule your own medical appointments and health screening tests. Your health is a priority as well.
- Stay active in whatever form this takes for you. Even small amounts of activity can help release stress and help improve your ability to handle difficult situations.
- Maintain regular contact with family and friends and make time to spend with them. It could simply be having a cup of tea in the backyard or going for a short walk.
- Attend a caregiver support group or establish a supportive social network with whom you can share your challenges and successes, have a good cry or simply vent your frustrations.
- Even small breaks away from your caregiving responsibilities can help re-energize you – a brief walk, sitting in the garden, coffee with friends. Arrange for home support to come in or ask friends or family to relieve you.
- Gather the skills and information you need in order to facilitate the care your family member needs. Sources for this information might be the person’s case manager or home support worker, caregiver support organizations, disease-specific organizations or courses at the local community centre or community college.
- Know how to navigate the healthcare system and who to ask if, and when, you need help.