Our thanks to Lydia Chan for this contribution to our blog.
With National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month upon us, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your life as a caregiver. So much of your time is spent tending to the needs of others that it’s all too easy to forget about your own needs as a result. Many caregivers, particularly those who help people with Alzheimer’s, find it difficult to practice the self-care necessary to maintain their health and well-being, which results in them feeling depleted and discouraged on a daily basis.
Whether you’re a caregiver by profession or are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, taking care of yourself is critical. It will not only help you live a thriving life, but it will also leave you with more to give so that you can be a better caregiver. Here’s the good news: Practicing self-care will not be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done. All it takes is a commitment to make small changes and implement healthy habits.
Here are a few practical tips for how you can begin your self-care journey as a caregiver.
Consider Assisted Living for Your Loved One
This isn’t a fun topic to think about. But at some point, assisted living may be necessary. Depending on the circumstances, it could be the best thing for the well-being of you and your loved one. Not only could it take some of the burdens off of you (the caregiver), but a memory care home can help your loved one maintain their independence, stay active, and engage in community. Such a facility in San Francisco can cost between $2,500 and $15,200 a month.
Eat Well. Get Sleep. Exercise Often.
This is really three tips, but they are all intertwined. Eating a healthy diet can benefit your sleep and provide you with more energy to exercise. Getting enough sleep can help you eat better, and it allows your body to recover, which boosts your exercise performance. And yes, regular exercise promotes sleep and can motivate you to eat better.
Try to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Create a bedtime routine that helps you get seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy, and try to do it five times a week. If you commit to these changes, it won’t take long for them to become habits, and the benefits will amaze you.
Find a Multivitamin That Helps
As much as eating a healthy diet benefits your overall health, there’s a chance that your body will still be missing nutrients here and there. A bioavailable multivitamin can help provide those nutrients. Along with filling nutrient gaps, taking a multivitamin can result in a healthier gut, skin, hair, and nails. If you take a B vitamin, you will have more energy for a more productive day.
Join a Support Group
Another important way to practice self-care is to find a support group. There are many caregiver support groups around the country — some that are for caregivers in general, and some that are specifically for Alzheimer’s caregivers. By connecting with a group, you will find a listening ear and sound advice from people who have gone and/or are going through the same kind of situation as you are. Support groups can serve as a great reminder that you’re not alone.
In the throes of everyday life as a caregiver, it’s essential that you not neglect your self-care. Consider whether it’s time to move your loved one into a memory care home. Establish healthy eating, sleep, and exercise routines, and take a multivitamin to boost your overall health and well-being. Finally, find a support group that provides you with the companionship you need.
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