Caring for a parent, either elderly or ill, is a big task to ask a child. However, millions of us rise to the occasion every year not out of responsibility, but out of love.
It can take a toll on us even in the best of times. Having to manage life, work and family in addition and it can often feel overwhelming. For this reason, we have developed some simple tips to help you care for yourself:
1. Find tools that help streamline life and make caregiving easier: When you’re a caregiver there is a lot to manage – doctors, medicine, treatments, and more. Phone apps, like Watch Our Own, can help you manage all of this and more from one place, while allowing others to be directly involved in helping to provide care to a loved one.
2. Create a support circle of friends and family who’ve been where you are; people you can talk to, vent to and can offer their insight, emotional support and can give you a break, even if it’s just for dinner.
3. Take a deep breath. We all fail at this as caregivers from time to time and we always regret it. Being a caregiver is stressful and it can be difficult to hide this from your loved one. Just remember that being a caregiver is a gift and valuable time spent loving and caring for someone important in your life. Time you will always remember and never regret.
4. Make time for yourself. Self-care is critical for caregivers. Remember to be kind, loving, nurturing and caring for yourself as much as others around you. If you can’t get out of the house, set aside an hour or so to read, work out or give yourself a spa therapy. Just lock the bathroom door, have a nice bath, read a book, listen to music, meditate, take a nap. Even this one hour a few times a week can make a difference and renew your spirit.
5. Find joy in the moment. Author Marianne Williamson said it best: “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” And things are good. One can find joy all around if we stop to look for it.
6. Laugh often. Ever notice how good you feel after a good laugh? Endorphins are high and you just feel happy. There isn’t much that laughter can’t cure. Instead of getting upset over little things, look for the humor. When you find the humor in a situation, you win.
7. Remember what’s important. When caring for a loved one it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the moment and forget what’s really important. As a caregiver, you have the unique opportunity to spend valuable time with your loved one. Time you will never get again. This can be enriching, it can repair any past friction, it gives you time to talk and learn more about your loved one, it will be a time you will remember and be grateful to have shared.
“It’s not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing.”
– Mother Theresa