According to AARP, there are approximately 66 million Americans caring for a child and a parent at the same time. Fittingly named the “Sandwich Generation”, many of these adults are squeezed between their aging parents or relatives, their children and their careers. Trying to balance all of these roles can trigger several different emotions and create many challenges, which can ultimately lead to emotional stress.
As a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself and maintain balance in order to reduce burnout and stay healthy. Here are a few tips for helping to maintain balance and lessen stress:
Ask for help – while it is sometimes difficult to ask for help, you may be surprised to find that family members or close friends are very willing to pitch in and help. Make a list of tasks that others can assist you with, such as grocery shopping, taking your loved one to an appointment or just sitting with them for awhile so you can have some time to yourself.
Take care of your own needs – it is important that you take time to relax, that you stay social and that you take care of your physical needs. Don’t skip an exercise class or your hair appointment and don’t miss out on the new movie you’ve been waiting to see. Taking time for activities you enjoy can help you feel better and reduce stress.
Create healthy habits – be sure to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. Eat right, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and keep up with your own health by going to the doctor and dentist as needed.
Find a support network – remember there are other people in like situations experiencing similar emotions to you. Join a caregiver’s support group, talk to a counselor or your minister at church. It is important to deal with your feelings and one of the best ways to do that is to talk about them.
Take advantage of community services – be sure to take advantage of community services that are available to help caregivers. Many times these services are covered by insurance or the cost is based on ability to pay. Available services may include adult day care, home health aides, respite care, and transportation services.
Remember the challenges of caring for a parent or loved one is a demanding job and no one is equipped to do it alone. With the right help and support, you can be a good caregiver without having to sacrifice yourself in the process.
The Meadows offers respite care for caregivers who need to take a vacation or need a short break from caregiving. Short-term stays are based on space availability. Call today for more details (615) 646-4466.
During March, the National Sleep Foundation sponsors National Sleep Awareness Week. It is important for us to remember how key sleep is to our health. No matter what our age, sleep is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. For older adults, a good night’s sleep is especially important because it helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.
As we age, we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns. We may become sleepy earlier, wake up earlier, or get less sleep. Although these changes are normal parts of aging, there are many ways we can maximize our sleep. While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most healthy adults tend to require between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. However, how you feel following a night’s sleep is more important than number of hours you spend asleep. Frequently waking up not feeling rested or feeling tired during the day are the best indications that you’re not getting enough sleep at night and may have a sleep problem that needs to be addressed.
Here are some tips to get a good night’s sleep:
- Turn off electronics including phones and computers at least an hour before bed. Screens have been proven to decrease the production of melatonin, the sleep engine.
- Try reading a book. It may help you relax and help you feel sleepy.
- Make sure your medications are not prohibiting your sleep. Check with your doctor as popular medications like Excedrin and Bayer Back may contain caffeine, which may cut into your sleep.
- Stop eating at least an hour before bed. Snacking right before bed can stimulate brainwaves that bring on nightmares instead of sweet dreams. Choose foods like fruits, whole grains or milk if you do eat right before bed.
- Clean the area around you. Clutter may distract you from sleeping and even cause anxiety. Make sure your bedroom is clean and clear of distractions.
Exercise regularly but make sure to do so at least three hours before bedtime as exercising too close to bedtime may energize you instead of relaxing you and promoting sleepiness.
Do you know what respite care is? It is short-term or temporary care services to relieve an in-home caregiver of responsibilities for an individual with long-term care needs. Respite care provides short-term breaks that can relieve stress, restore energy, and promote balance in your life.
All caregivers need some time off for vacation, special family occasions or even their own health needs.
Respite care provides a break for caregivers and ensures that loved ones get the proper attention, medication, diet and activities they need.
Here are some tips for planning respite care:
- Plan and schedule frequent breaks.
- Use a checklist to inform respite care providers about your care recipient’s schedules, likes and dislikes. Offer suggestions for special situations or difficult behaviors.
- Ask for brief updates and reports.
- Expect changes. Respite care is a process that often requires fine-tuning.
We offer respite care at The Meadows and Heartland, and Medicare may pay most of the cost beyond the co-pay. It is important to know if respite care is being provided by a Medicare-approved facility.
Do you know someone that needs time away? Call us to see how we can help (615) 646-4466.
Providing care for a family member or loved one is an act of love and loyalty. There are many different circumstances that lead to a person being in a caregiver role. Regardless of one’s particular situation, caregiving can be challenging and all caregivers need strength, support and encouragement.
Remember, God cares for the caregiver…”For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
I Peter 3:8-9 “Be untied in spirit and affection. Love one another with tender hearts and humble souls. Do not return for evil. Instead give back blessings. You have been called to love and thus be blessed.”
Matthew 11:29-30 “Come to Me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place My yoke over your shoulders, and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Psalm 4:8 :I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
1 Peter 5:7 “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”