Perhaps one of the most difficult jobs in the world is acting as a caregiver to an ill, aging, or disabled family member or friend. The role is physically demanding, and the emotional toll can be profound. With over 90 million family caregivers in the nation, November’s National Family Caregivers Month is an important way to highlight the challenges and rewards of caring for loved ones, a job which enables many to live in the comfort of their own home longer and maintain better health. As a way to say “thank you” to individuals who provide essential care each and every day, Greater Boston Urology is happy to provide valuable tips to help caregivers maintain their own health and wellness, while caring for another.
Utilize available resources: Websites like the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) provides individuals with access to free webinars to help navigate healthcare options and learn in-depth care techniques. Downloadable checklists for medication distribution and doctors’ visits will keep appointments and information organized, freeing up more time for caregivers to care for themselves. Support networks are available to exchange information with other caregivers and professionals. To explore available resources, visit CAN’s Family Caregiver Toolbox at http://bit.ly/1NrM2Pm, and begin streamlining the care giving process.
Breathe. Take time out of the day for mental and physical breaks to help center yourself. CAN suggests using the “Magic Window” technique. For a temporary escape, try looking at a natural and serene object when you’re indoors. Tabletop fountains, rock gardens, or fish tanks can have a tranquil effect on the viewer. Meditation techniques such as yoga and deep-breathing can have a positive impact on mental well-being. Pay close attention to your physical health, as well. Incorporate a daily multi-vitamin into a healthy diet, get regular checkups, and stay up-to-date on immunizations. (http://bit.ly/1jEl5OU)
Recognize signs of depression. According to the National Network of Depression Centers, over 21 million individuals in America, over the age of 18, suffer from a mood disorder. Depression can be spurred by life-changing events such as caring for an ill, disabled, or dying loved one. If you’ve been experiencing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or lack of energy, talk with your doctor. (http://bit.ly/1LrLkkt)
Re-connect with your loved one. Running from one doctor’s visit to the next, arranging meals, and keeping track of medications and legal documents can leave you and your loved one void of energy. In between the day-to-day demands, take time to be fully present with your loved one. Play a game together, watch a favorite show, and re-connect.
Take time away. Never feel guilty for taking time away from care giving. Carving out time for yourself and other family members will only help you to provide better care for your loved one. It’s important to allow yourself time to retreat and rejuvenate. For respite service options, visit http://bit.ly/1Gw2xKD.
Above all, remember that you are making deep and lasting change in the life of another, and while it may not always feel like it, your contributions are felt by your family, your loved ones, and during National Family Caregivers Month.
This November and everyday, Greater Boston Urology recognizes and honors the important role of caregivers in the healing process. Greater Boston Urology is committed to working side-by-side with its patients and those who care for them to truly make a difference.