Caring for a loved one fighting cancer or coping with the aging process can be exhausting. The sick or aging loved one needs a variety of things on an hourly and daily basis and it can feel like a more than full time job to ensure all these needs are met. There are several things you can do to keep yourself from getting fatigued or burnt out and able to continue providing care.
Recognize and accept that you have limitations and that it’s okay. Set goals that are realistic, break them down and prioritize them in ways that make sense. Say “no” where you feel you need to in order to protect your peace of mind. While your loved one may need daily care, you don’t have to take on additional tasks such as hosting large family meals.
There are many ways you can get the support you need to continue as a caretaker for your loved one.
- Look for support groups in your area and visit a few until you find one you’re comfortable continuing with.
- Ask for help. Although you may be the main caretaker, it’s not on you to do everything. Make a list of things you need help with and delegate to people with the skills to handle them.
- Socialize. It may feel like going out with friends or other family members is too difficult. You’re tired and you do need to rest, but having fun with your friends and family will revitalize you and lower your overall stress level.
Have Personal Goals
As a caregiver, your primary focus is on the sick or aging loved one in your life. To provide the most effective support, however, you need to take care of yourself. Set health goals such as getting enough sleep, being physically active a certain number of days per week or eating healthy meals. Your body needs care, too. Don’t hesitate to make time to do that for yourself.
Seriously. Laughter truly is healing. Even if you have to fake it, it engages the muscles used in genuine laughter and releases endorphins and other lovely chemicals in the brain. Watch a comedy show or sitcom to help stimulate some laughing.
Find Inner Peace
Whether it’s meditation, prayer, hiking or some other form of relaxation it’s important to make time to engage in activities that help you re-center and return to your inner peace and calm. Caring for your spiritual and emotional needs is as critical as caring for someone else is emotionally draining and requires inner strength and patience.
See Your Doctor to Combat Caretaker Fatigue
It’s easy to overlook your own yearly checkups and screenings in the midst of running your loved one to their myriad of doctors’ appointments. However, your doctor is responsible for helping ensure you’re healthy. Making time to get your screenings and talking with your doctor about any concerns your have with your health or being a caregiver can help alleviate or treat potential issues before they arise.