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LEARN: Caring for the Caregiver


Caregiving may be one of the most rewarding and gratifying jobs you ever undertake, but it can cause severe strain. Many caregivers report feeling spread thin by the demands of caregiving, the needs of their families, work pressures, and other daily stressors. The average caregiver spends 20 hours per week helping a loved one, and almost one in five caregiver's report spending more than 40 hours a week. It's also common for caregivers to feel secluded and to neglect their needs.

Fortunately, there are ways to help lighten the load :

Nourish yourself.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, choose whole grain over refined grain products and limit your consumption of sweets and unhealthy fats (trans and saturated fats).

Move.

Regular exercise will help you to feel less stressed, more balanced, and will help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Try to get at least four hours of exercise per week while incorporating things you enjoy (gardening, walking outside, dancing) into your routine.

Don't isolate yourself.

Keep in touch with friends and family via email, social media, or meeting for coffee, tea, a walk or movie!

Do things that make you happy.

Take time to do the things you love and make you feel good, such as; taking a bath, scrapbooking (or other creative pastimes), go out to dinner, take an exercise or meditation class, or listen to your favorite music.

Seek additional care and assistance.

An extra set of hands can help give you more time for yourself and can help you get the assistance you need. Whether it's grocery shopping, managing finances, or other daily tasks.

Cut back.

Reassess needs and brainstorm solutions. Would home health services help a couple times a week? Would grocery shopping online give you a little more time for yourself?

Seek therapy.

Being a caregiver will result in feelings that are often hard to cope with on your own. Seek help from a local therapist. Visit the NMCSD WEBSITE for more information.

Providing constant care is extremely challenging, and nearly 30 percent of those who do this, report health problems. By taking care of yourself and considering methods to make challenges easier, you'll feel better and be able to continue to help and support.