“Keep smiling!” Well-meaning family and friends frequently offer these words of encouragement, but they’re also words family caregivers need to hear from time to time. If you’re a family caregiver, you know that caring for a loved one can not only be satisfying and fulfilling, but it can also be time-consuming and tiring, which makes that joyful smile of yours begin to fade. Not only is this not healthy for you, but it also affects your aging loved one. It’s important for caregivers to stay refreshed might seem impossible but we have the best ways for you to achieve that.
To help keep you stay feeling refreshed with a cheery smile on your face, here are some tips for you from the pros.
Identify the source(s) of your fatigue
As a family caregiver, you may be wearing many hats, all of which come with some degree of stress. In addition to all the obligations of being a caregiver, you may also have other roles and commitments: spouse, parent, employee, co-worker, friend, neighbor, and more.
Over time, your stress level can build to the point of fatigue or even exhaustion. Taking inventory of what is draining your energy and identifying the major sources of stress can help you put together a healthy action plan for stress relief. Take some time to exercise, eat healthily, get extra rest, and schedule periodic medical checkups.
Know your limitations
Everyone has limitations – the aging process is a natural part of life. Accept those things you can’t do, and focus instead on what you can deliver as a caregiver. It can be refreshing to take a few minutes and write down all of the value you bring to your loved one.
It also is helpful to put together an attainable and realistic task list every morning and break it up into doable portions. You may not be able to do everything on your list some days, but it’s easier to keep smiling when you accept that and pat yourself on the back at the end of the day for doing all that you could to the best of your ability.
Connect with other caregivers
When you’re going through those periods as a caregiver where you’re discouraged and saddened from watching your loved one age and possibly struggle with physical or cognitive decline, sharing your feelings with other caregivers can help you feel supported and stay refreshed.
Joining a caregiver support group not only helps you let go of negative emotions, which can slowly wear you down; you’ll also be able to hone your caregiving skill level, which will increase your confidence as a caregiver.
Enjoy a well-deserved break
As McDonald’s advertising used to assert, “You deserve a break today!” These resources can help:
1. Community support programs
Check out if your city or town has adult care programs during the day. This can give you some time off while keeping your loved one entertained and engaged with other people. There are also community volunteers that can lend a helping hand.
2. Friends and family
When your family and friends see you doing a good job, they can think you don’t need any help. Don’t be afraid to ask them to get involved and rotate caregiving tasks based on their skills and availability.
3. Hire a professional respite caregiver
Contact an agency, like Home Instead of Northern Milwaukee, to step in when you need time off. Better agencies are very flexible and will create a caregiving plan that delivers respite care daily, weekly, or monthly based on your family’s needs.
The caregivers at Home Instead are well-trained, highly qualified, and carefully selected. They’ll help ease your burden by preparing meals, doing light housekeeping, providing local transportation, helping with personal hygiene, and providing companionship for your loved one.
If you’re in Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Glendale, contact us today. We’ll keep you feeling refreshed and bring your radiant smile back. We’re here for you.