No matter how resilient a person is, caregiving can be exhausting and physically demanding. Caregivers often end up neglecting their health when they are caring for a senior loved one. As the population ages, we see more family members becoming caregivers for their elderly relatives or loved ones. Caregiving is not necessarily provided by healthcare professionals. Informal caregiving is much more common these days where family members or relatives take care of their senior family members.
Informal caregivers can provide help and assistance to another person who is in need, such as a spouse, a child, a disabled senior, an aging relative or someone who is recovering from surgery.
Recognizing a caregiver’s role in society is important because “informal” caregivers do not identify themselves as such and so they don’t get the support they need.
Caregivers can experience a lot of stress and it may go unrecognized because they are so busy caring for the ones in need. Some of the signs of caregiver stress include:
- Feeling exhausted
- Not getting enough sleep
- Getting irritated easily
- Not eating properly
- Experiencing frequent headaches
- Losing interest in their favorite activities
To help manage caregiver stress, there are some beneficial activities caregivers can incorporate in their daily routines:
Caregivers do not get the time to rest and relax. Even if they do, there is a lot of mental stress involved in their daily routines. It is hard for them to take a break. Meditation is one activity that does not involve any lengthy periods or equipment. You can do it anytime and anywhere. Meditation is a great stress reliver and it can ease tension. There are so many forms of meditation, you can also download an app and follow the few minutes of meditative techniques.
Tai Chi combines gentle physical movements which can help relieve stress and improve breathing. Depending on the caregiver’s age, Tai Chi exercise can be modified with varying intensity levels. If a caregiver chooses to incorporate an intense workout, it can become a great low impact aerobic exercise for them. For caregivers who feel exhausted or physically drained, Tai Chi can help reduce anxiety and depression through meaningful movements that are slow, yet they improve balance and strengthen leg muscles.
Start a gratitude journal
Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal can invoke positive and hopeful feelings. Gratitude reduces caregiver stress because it helps you recount all the things you are pleased with, especially during difficult periods and moments of struggle. Writing about things that bring you joy can prove to be a transformative experience. Having a gratitude journal can lower stress and depression, improve sleep, and boost your mood.
Spend time with your furry friends
Spending time with pets can boost mood and help you relax. There are many benefits of pet ownership for the elderly as well. Dogs or cats can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve mood. As a caregiver, if you feel you do not have time for pets or to take care of them, spend some time with your friend’s pet. If you are caring for a dementia patient, you will find pets to be greatly beneficial for them as it increases socialization among seniors with dementia.
Watch your favorite show
Taking regular breaks will help you relax and improve your mood. As a caregiver, taxing yourself becomes a part of the routine. Take out time for yourself and order take out food for a change. Watching your favorite show on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any other streaming device you prefer, will help you feel relaxed. It will also enable you to divert your mind from worry and stress.
Proper Breathing Techniques
One of the most important things we take for granted is breathing. All of us breathe, yes, but do we do it the correct way? Most of the time, due to high levels of stress and numerous chores that need to be completed, we do not pay attention to how we are breathing. Focused deep breathing techniques can increase the body’s oxygen levels and ease mental stress.
If you are a caregiver looking after a senior loved one or a family member recovering from a surgery, adaptive clothing provides easy dressing solutions that can make your daily routine easier. You do not need to struggle with narrow neck openings or repetitive movements that leave you exhausted. With adaptive features like side open pants, open back shirts, magnetic closures, anti-slip shoes, and wheelchair pants, you can reduce dressing time in half and make dressing safer for yourself and your senior loved ones.