Caring for Yourself when Caring for Others
A career as a caregiver or caring for an aging loved one, parent, or spouse can be extremely rewarding. However; as with most rewards, they’re earned and come with a number of challenges. Caregivers spend most of their time devoting themselves to others and putting others’ needs before their own. Caregivers can become so focused on the ones they are caring for, it’s easy to forget their own well-being.
Sometimes we need to help ourselves before helping others.
Care giving should come with a similar warning flight attendants kindly remind us of each flight.
“Please put on your oxygen mask first, before helping another”
This metaphor is important for people taking care of everyone else but themselves. Why? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen masks. If caregivers don’t care for themselves as well, they’ll probably experience at least one or any of the following:
Fatigue or Burnout
Anxiety and frustration
Lowered mental effectiveness
SOMETHINGS A CAREGIVER SHOULD ALWAYS REMEMBER TO
Be aware of potential hazardous or dangerous situations
A home care worker is easily exposed to many dangerous situations, slips or falls when supporting someone else. It’s essential for caregivers to continually promote safe and healthy work environments for themselves AND the people they are caring for. Use the right tools and techniques to keep everyone safe!
Watch out for general aches and pains or back & shoulder injuries
Housecleaning especially can be difficult on our bodies. Fortunately, there are tools to make the job easier!
A long-handled duster, mop, and scrub brush will limit bending while you clean the floor, walls, tubs, and toilets
A step stool can help you clean high places without overreaching and possibly losing your balance
Knee pads or a folded towel will cushion your knees
Avoid reaching or bending, move as close as possible to the task
Try not to twist your body but move your feet instead
Recognize when the job is causing undo stress
Stress occurs when your mind and body are overloaded with pressure or worry. Stress is not good for your health, and can be very detrimental over time. Too much stress can cause depression, depleted energy , trouble sleeping, poor appetite, increased risk to sickness, or mood swings to say the least.
HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO HANDLE STRESS ON THE JOB
Make a list of things causing you stress on the job. Keeping a journal is a great way to express your feelings, track trends and brainstorm ways to cope with the stress.
Talk to a someone
Sometimes the best therapy is to just let it out and talk to a friend, family member, co-worker or agency. Keeping things bottled up is not good for our health. An outside perspective can provide us with a possible solution or ideas to resolve the conflict.
Initiate a conversation with the client
Miscommunication is the root of so many problems. Intention can easily be lost in translation and delivery of the message. Try opening a discussion about what is causing the frustrations. Having a supportive person or second party might be a good idea.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Leading a healthy life ensures we are at our emotional and physical best. All of the below are ways to make sure our bodies and mind reach the pinnacle of success:
Getting enough rest
Limiting alcohol and drugs
Keeping up-to-date with our vaccines
Reduce stress with increased laughter
Do things you enjoy / Watch a funny movie / Spend time with people who make you smile / Practice gratefulness
Caregivers are the great and selfless people we need more of in this world… But for that to occur we need to ensure they make themselves a top priority!
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