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Caregiver Guide to Self Care; Pierce Legal logo appears in lower left corner

A Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care

Taking on the role of caregiver for a loved one is extremely selfless and fulfilling; however, at times it can become exhausting. While many find gratification in caring for others, they have to tend to their own lives and responsibilities. Because of this, caregivers typically experience some extent of burnout. In order to avoid burnout, it is critical for all caregivers to remember to take care of themselves.

Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is the emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion from the stressors that coincide with caring for a loved one. It is typically accompanied by feeling under-supported, overwhelmed, and underappreciated.

Burnout is most likely to happen when caregivers are not taking care of themselves. This can eventually affect the caregiver’s ability to provide quality care, which can be harmful to both the caregiver and the individual receiving care. A study conducted by the Family Caregiver Alliance found that “higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health effects are common among family members who care for an older relative or friend.”

Fortunately, burnout can be prevented or minimized by taking precautions such as healthy eating, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and utilizing respite care to ensure regular breaks are prioritized.

Caregiver’s Self-Care

While it may be easy to overlook our own physical, mental, and emotional health when we are busy providing care for a loved one, it’s important to remember to pause to take care of yourself. Afterall, you cannot pour water from an empty vessel. Remember to take the time to do these simple things in order to refill your well:

  • Find time every week for the activities and hobbies that bring you joy.
  • Remember to move! Even a twenty-minute walk a day can have lasting positive effects on your physical and mental health.
  • Eat a balanced diet of the foods you love!
  • Drink water.
  • Prioritize sleep.

Beyond taking care of your body physically, it’s important to be open with your loved ones about how you’re doing and whether you need others to step in and help. In some cases, other family members or friends may be able to help lighten the load. In other cases, you may need to rely on respite care services to get a much-needed break that will allow you to recharge.

Respite Care Services

Respite care is an essential component of caregiving. It provides support for caregivers by offering temporary relief from the high demands of caring for a sick, disabled, or aging loved one.

Respite care is unique for each situation. It can take place in one’s home, nursing or residential facilities, or adult day care centers. It may only be for a few hours while the caregiver runs errands, or it can be for a few days to weeks, depending on the circumstances. The type of support varies greatly as well and may include:

  • Assistance with household chores, errands, or tasks
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and hygienic needs
  • Basic medical care
  • Companionship

Types of Respite Care

Arrangements for respite care are made ahead of time by the caregiver, and these arrangements can take the form of many types. The most common types of respite care are as follows:

  • Informal care is generally provided by family members or friends. It does not involve a respite professional and is an excellent solution for occasional, short-term breaks.
  • In-home care services come to you and offer temporary relief or can be regularly scheduled. An agency or an individual caregiver can provide in-home care aids or respite services.
  • Day services are an excellent option for adults who enjoy socialization and time out of their homes. These services are provided at various locations. These include senior centers or churches, and allow for supervised socialization under medical care. These services permit caregivers to go to work or complete other daytime tasks.
  • Residential care is much like a temporary nursing home or assisted living facility. It allows for overnight stays and is a good option if a caregiver must travel or needs a longer break.

Being a caregiver is a full-time responsibility. To provide the best care for a loved one, the caregiver must ensure that they are taking care of themselves too. Respite care plays a vital role, as it recharges the caregiver so burnout can be avoided and all have the best outcome.

Attorney Danielle PierceThe team at Pierce Legal provides legal advice and guidance focused on the areas of asset protection through proper estate planning, including pre-planning for long-term care our clients may need as they age. When it costs an average $9,034/month for long-term nursing home care, we understand the need to create estate plans that will protect your family’s legacy. We can help guide and support the aging population (and their families) to draft an individualized estate plan that will meet their specific needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (330) 588-6115.

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