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Facts for All Ages

The Importance of Caregiver Self-Care

When you spend quality time with one of your parents, you never really think, "Hey, I might be their caregiver one day." This caregiving role is a huge responsibility for a person to take on. I have personally taken on this role for my Grandfather when he moved into my family's home when I was about 16 years old. At the time, I had no idea what an impact it would have on my sisters and I but my parents as well. As I look back, it was a very emotionally draining to have to take care of someone who was older than I was. That said, I would never take back that time of my life, and I am very proud of being able to say that I took care of my Grandfather when no one else could.

Caregiving is no small task, and it can't be done without giving it your full effort. A father, mother, grandparent, or friend is depending on you to take care of them when they might not be able to. They are entrusting in you that you will support them and give them a quality of life that they have become accustomed too.

While this responsibility is an honorable one, it can make a huge impact on your life and turn your world upside down. Making sure that you are taking care of yourself is so important, not only for you, but for the care-receiver as well.

The National Institute on Aging provides caregivers some tips to make sure that they are taking care of themselves while taking care of the care-receiver:

  • Ask for help when you need it: Don't be scared or feel ashamed to ask family or friends for help. Even if it's making food, cleaning, or running errands.
  • Join a caregiver's support group: Find a local support group in your area where you can talk to other caregivers about how you're feeling.
  • Take a break: get some coffee, sit and read a book, watch TV. Whatever you do make sure that it makes you happy! Take a few moments to refocus and rejuvenate yourself.
  • Spend time with friends: Have a night out on the town or lunch with friends! Get your mind off your caregiving responsibilities and focus on the moment at hand.
  • Keep up with hobbies and interests: If you have a hobby that can be one thing that you do for yourself.
  • Exercise: Taking a walk or going to the gym can be a great stress reliever while keeping up on your personal health!
  • Regular doctor visits: Talk to your doctor about the caregiving responsibilities you have and tell that person any concerns you are having about your health.

While you are making sure that you are taking care of yourself, it will, in turn, affect the care-receiver as well. They will be getting a better quality of care because you are refreshed and ready to help your loved one in any way you can! As I have stated, this is no light task, and it is something that you can look back on and be extremely proud of what you have done.

Written by: Emily Bane, Family Life Intern, Eastern Illinois University

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