Well Being of Caregivers

During COVID times, We all have realised the importance of well being and caregivers both but people hardly discuss both these topic together i.e. “Well being of Caregiver”. So, in this article we will try to enlighten people about the different practices one could follow to ensure their well being during tough times. 

Two of the biggest challenges for caregivers are finding the time and the energy to take care of your own health. As a caregiver, you may feel you need to put your own needs and desires aside in order to meet the challenges of providing care to . You may feel guilty or selfish if you pay attention to your own needs, or you may be so overwhelmed that you cannot find the time to care for yourself.

Scientific research has taught us that the stresses of caring for a person with dementia can lead to poor health outcomes for caregivers. Many caregivers suffer from depression and anxiety. They may delay or neglect treatment of their own health conditions. Self-care is vitally important for preventing future health problems. By taking better care of themselves, caregivers may find they are able to provide better care for their loved one. Being a caregiver doesn’t mean the person has to sacrifice their own health and well-being.

Here are some strategies designed to help reduce the stress and burden of caregiving and to foster effective coping that may protect your health and well-being.

  • Respite (taking a break) is essential for caregivers. Diseases, sometimes, can be a marathon, not a sprint. People with chronic diseases can live years with their illness so take the time you need to care for yourself.
  • Try to not let your loved one’s illness always take center stage. Caregiving can be one of many aspects of your life. Schedule time for yourself regularly: it may be necessary to have help in caring for your loved one in order to make this happen.
  • Get exercise. There may be steps to take and arrangements to make in order for you to engage or re-engage in healthy activities. Getting to an exercise class, the golf course, a hike with friends may necessitate finding alternate care for your loved one. Work with your team on problem-solving and finding ways to incorporate healthy activities into your life.
  • Get enough sleep. Prolonged disruption in your sleep can impact your overall health and well-being. Explore the reasons and causes for sleep disruption: are you lying awake worried and anxious? Is your loved one waking you up? Think of realistic strategies that may improve the situation, for example, learn about principles of good sleep hygiene, discuss the use of a mild sleeping medication for you or your loved one, and take steps to reduce your worry and anxiety.
  • Get regular medical checkups. Ensure you have a healthcare provider (physician or nurse practitioner) that you trust. Confide in them and tell them you are a caregiver and what that means for you. Make a point of getting a yearly physical evaluation to identify any medical issues.
  • Stay socially connected with people you enjoy being with. Many caregivers are at risk for feeling lonely and isolated due to their caregiving demands.
  • Watch out for signs of depression (sadness, excessive worrying, sleeping too much or not sleeping enough, lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy, and suicidal thoughts). Seek help quickly if you need it. Professional counseling and treatment may be necessary
  • Ask for help. When people offer help, accept it. Remember, caregiving is not a one-person job. Getting help with caregiving does not mean you are failing as a caregiver: a team approach to dementia care p is absolutely essential. Make a list of specific tasks you would like to get help with (i.e., grocery shopping, housekeeping, taking your loved one to a movie).
  • Consider setting up an online care community site to assist you in asking for help, as well as managing your available friends and family. You can post times and tasks that you need help with, as well as provide care updates for your family and friends. If you aren’t comfortable with technology, find someone (family member, neighbor, friend) who can take on the management of the calendar. 
  • Explore mechanisms for financial assistance you may be qualified for help to pay for resources and services you need.Read your loved one’s insurance policy to see if it covers assistance with caregiving. 
  • Learn everything you can about your loved one’s illness so that you can communicate comfortably with healthcare providers and can prepare for the future. When using the internet, stick with well-known medical sites from the government or academic centers 
  • Seek support and information from other caregivers. There can be great comfort in knowing you are not alone and that others have experiences that are similar to yours. Fellow caregivers often have great tips and advice. And sometimes, they will make you laugh when you need it most. Support groups (in-person, online and telephone) are a great way to make these connections. In addition to support groups, there are books and videos about caregiving.
    • Consider watching the “Conversations with Caregivers” 
  • Create a team. Your team may include healthcare providers, family, friends, neighbors, members from your religious community and so on. A good team should be able to provide necessary emotional support, guidance, help with decision-making and respite. You may consider hiring a professional Care Manager who can assist you in creating a care plan and locating needed services. 
  • Learn about the different options in providing care. Knowing your options is an important step in facing your future. It is helpful to know what your loved one’s insurance plan will and won’t cover. Understanding the different levels of care (for example, home care, assisted living, memory care) can provide you with the support needed to find a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself.

Caregiving can elicit many emotional responses. Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, impatient, sad and angry are just some of the emotions you may experience as a caregiver. Caregivers also experience happiness, satisfaction and contentment. While negative emotions are common, identifying strategies to help you manage them can go a long way in preserving your health and well-being. So, it’s essential to listen to yourself during such difficult times to ensure better care to your own selves while giving it to others.