Caring for a loved one is priceless. You’re willing to devote your time, effort, and life to your child, parent, or grandparent who needs your assistance in bed care, grooming, medication, feeding, or mobility. However, even healthcare professionals come to the point of burnout, sometimes without them knowing, which can lead to depression and unhealthy habits.
In this article, you’ll learn some ways to care for yourself while caring for a loved one for your reference.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care To Avoid Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue refers to cumulative stress experienced by primary caregivers (healthcare providers or the patients’ significant others) over time (months or even years), bringing feelings of helplessness. According to Alvarado Parkway Institute, practicing self-care helps avoid compassion fatigue, which is manifested by stress-induced headaches, feeling of hopelessness, insomnia or oversleeping, overall exhaustion, frustration, increased irritability, and gastrointestinal upset.
Self-care encompasses many aspects, including the following:
- Eat Right: You might find yourself missing important meals of the day because you’re too busy assisting a loved one, especially a bed-bound patient who needs round-the-clock assistance. But, one way to become an effective caregiver is to be healthy by eating on time and consuming nutritious meals every day.
- Find Time To Exercise: Even how busy you are attending to your loved one’s needs, make sure to find time to exercise. This physical activity helps increase the production of happy hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, and decrease those that cause stress, such as cortisol. To achieve such, perform some endurance and strength exercises, such as running, stretching, and aerobics.
- Don’t Neglect Your Personal Appearance: It’s quite easy to forget yourself and neglect your appearance when caring for a loved one. Some people even feel guilty looking great in front of sick people. However, you don’t need to think this way. Be an inspiration to your loved one to get better, as well as attain recovery and the highest quality of life, despite their medical condition.
Agree On A Caregiver And Patient Collaboration
You and your loved one can agree to help themselves in attaining better health and fitness. Even if your family member has mobility issues, both of you can still work out a great plan to make the experience more meaningful for both of you.
Check the following tips for effective caregiver and patient collaboration:
- Be Honest About Your Feelings: Agree to tell each other if any of you are feeling down or burned out, such as whether you need to take a break and summon someone to care for your loved one temporarily.
- Be An Inspiration: Be a source of inspiration for and a role model to your loved one. Show your family member that you take your own maintenance medications on time and you’re practicing a healthy lifestyle.
- Enforce Rules: A good collaboration involves enforcing some rules. For instance, you don’t spoil your daughter just because she’s sick. Be firm with the medication schedule and explain the consequences of missing taking them on time.
Use Tech To Your Advantage
Advanced technology can help reduce the primary workload caregivers handle every day. Unlike in the past, mobility devices, automatic systems, and computers now assist in providing quality patient care.
Check the following technologies you might want to consider investing in when caring for a loved one to make your job a lot easier:
- Telehealth: If you’re living far away from downtown or in a remote area where healthcare facilities are scarce, telehealth is a great option. Telehealth or telemedicine is an innovative way to provide patient care assessment, diagnosis, and treatment through online platforms. The patient and the doctor can talk through videoconferencing, conducting a visual assessment and discussing various treatment options.
- Smartwatch And Other Wearable Devices: Monitor your and your loved one’s health by wearing a smartwatch and other wearable devices. These devices usually come with built-in trackers, providing data on the person’s heart rate, heartbeat, oxygen level, respiratory rate, and other relevant biometrics. Wearable devices help detect cardiac arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythm, impending heart attack, or stroke.
- E-Learning: Electronic learning (e-learning) materials are digital resources usually used in creating online courses. As a caregiver, it’s important to increase your knowledge and hone your skills on how to handle emergency situations. While caring for your loved one, take this opportunity to learn more about their illness, its treatment options, and management tips. By doing so, you’ll be more confident taking care of your sick family member. Knowing the latest care practices can help you cater to the patient’s needs better, thereby saving time, effort, and resources.
- Alarm Sensors: As a part of your home security, it pays investing in alarm sensors and other patient monitoring equipment so you’ll be notified of your loved one’s condition even if you’re not at their bedside.
- Time Management App: Manage your time using a reliable time management app, keeping you reminded of the things you need to do at specific times of the day. This can also help reduce pressure and stress, trying to keep everything inside your head.
Seek Professional Help
Even superheroes have weaknesses, thus, so are you. Caring for an ill family member can be physically and mentally draining for the primary caregiver.
You can’t clock out, like what nurses and doctors do in healthcare facilities, when caring for a patient at home. And, oftentimes, families may lack support because of financial and relationship issues. Not being able to express yourself and narrate your experiences to anyone can feel heavy inside. All of these things can lead to hopelessness and, worse, depression.
It’s okay to ask for professional help any time. Take a look at the following professionals you can consult when caring for a loved one:
- Mental Health Professional: A mental health professional can be a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can assess, diagnose, and treat different mental health issues that primary caregivers usually experience. The psychiatrist can prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help manage your stress and anxiety associated with your role as a caregiver. Other treatment options may include group therapy, hypnosis, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
- Doctor: Talk to your family physician if you’re feeling sick or shows signs and symptoms of infection. Don’t compromise your loved one’s health by neglecting yours. If you have a fever, cold, or flu, consider asking for help from another family member, relative, or friend to take good care of your sick loved one. Also, you can hire a caregiver or in-home nurse to take over your duties in the meantime.
- Support Groups: Non-profit organizations and support groups are experts in dealing with real-life situations, such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and support groups for child leukemia, ADHD, and breast cancer patients and their families, among many others. By joining any of these groups, you’ll be able to get emotional guidance, and even financial support for your loved one. You and your sick family member will realize that you’re not alone with this battle, and some people also go through the same experience. This way, you’ll be more open in discussing your feelings and experiences, as well as in finding support, comfort, and peace within the group.
- Priests Or Lay Ministers: Sometimes, people question their creator why sickness struck one of their family members, especially those who have cancer and other terminal or debilitating diseases. Such a situation can test a person’s spiritual beliefs and morale. There could be ethical issues concerning prolonging or stopping the life of a patient on a mechanical ventilator. In times like this, you can seek help from a religious leader, like a priest or lay minister, to enlighten your spirituality, helping you in making a major life decision.
- Lawyer: Legal matters may arise from caring for a family loved one, especially concerning will and trust, living will, and advanced directives. You can consult the patient’s estate lawyer to determine their wishes, such as treatment preferences, in the event they land into a coma or life and death situation.
Take A Vacation
One of the best ways to relieve fatigue and stress is to take a vacation in a beach resort, out of town, or anyplace away from home. Taking care of a family member doesn’t mean you also stop living and experiencing happiness. Give yourself a break to avoid burnout. In return, you’ll be energized and feel rejuvenated to assume the responsibility once more once you get back home. You can hire an in-home nurse or an on-call caregiver to attend to your loved one while you’re away.
Try Home Stress Buster Remedies
If you can’t afford to leave your loved one for a weekend vacation, you can still create your very own escape haven even at home. Be more productive and bond with your loved one to reduce both of your stress and worries.
Here are some home stress buster remedies you can try:
- Redesign Your Garden: If you have a spacious landscape garden, it’s a good idea to redesign it and make gardening your new hobby. Taking care of plants is very rewarding as you see flowers bloom and crops bear fruits. You can also bring your loved one to the patio while watching you do gardening, or let them help you with some stem cuttings. Gardening is a great family bonding activity, reducing boredom, loneliness, and sadness.
- Engage In Crafts: Painting, sketching, origami, sewing, crocheting, and other art forms can help you and your loved one turn an empty time into one that’s more productive and meaningful.
- Music Therapy: Sing and dance with your loved one at home. Music is fun and can help in healing and recovery. Your granny can teach you basic ballroom steps, or you can teach your child some dance steps you’ve learned in high school.
- Aromatherapy: The fragrance of essential oils in a diffuser can be very relaxing. Try lavender, jasmine, chamomile, lemon oil, and other essential oils. Your loved one will surely feel relaxed, too.
- Massage Therapy: Increase blood circulation in different body areas through massage therapy. Massagers are widely sold online to help you massage yourself. Also, you can use them to massage your loved one to improve their blood circulation, relax their muscles, and calm their mind.
- Cook And Bake: Make meal preparation more fun by learning new kitchen recipes. Check tutorials from famous chefs around the world through YouTube and other social media platforms. Your loved one will surely enjoy eating new and delicious recipes from your kitchen creations.
- Meditation: Pray and meditate together with your sick loved one to grow your faith and nourish your spirituality. Read the Bible, inspirational quotes, and other inspiring stories. Also, you can watch good movies together.
Don’t Miss Annual General Checkup
Make sure to undergo a yearly general checkup to determine if you have any existing or impending medical condition. A general checkup usually involves a laboratory examination to check your cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney and liver enzymes, and other blood parameters. It may also include scan studies, such as radiology, mammography for women, and ultrasound.
Keep yourself insured to ensure comprehensive healthcare coverage. Choose a private healthcare plan with vision coverage so you’ll pay less when buying prescription glasses or undergoing eye procedures. Of course, always with your preferred healthcare facility if they’re accepting your prospective insurance.
When choosing insurance coverage, make sure to compare different insurance products so you can get the best deal. Also, choose a trusted insurance company with good reviews in providing benefits, as well as one with high claim approvals.
Self-care is crucial when caring for a loved one. Make sure that you eat well, and get enough rest and exercise. Make sure to have time to groom yourself, take your medications on time, and visit a doctor if you’re feeling sick. Self-care also involves accepting the fact that you need help at some point.
Moreover, you can try some home remedies to beat stress and anxiety, such as gardening, aromatherapy, massage therapy, crafts, as well as cooking and baking. Take a vacation to destress and rejuvenate, and take this time to enjoy outdoor activities. Also, make sure to seek professional help, as needed, to keep your physical and psychological health at optimum level. Undergo a yearly general checkup and keep yourself health-insured to prepare you and your family in case you get sick, too.