Easter Seals New Jersey recognizes the various struggles that many caregivers sometimes face when they are caring for a loved one. Often times, these same individuals neglect to care for themselves. For all of you that do not know, November is National Family Caregivers Month, and to honor all of you caregivers out there who work hard all day, every day, to care for your loved ones, this post is for you.
In the most recent studies on Caregivers in the US there was an estimated:
- More than 65 million caregivers nationwide
- 52 million caregivers caring for adults with an illness or disability
- Caregivers spend on average 20-35 hours per week providing care
- 17% feel their personal health suffers due to caregiving
- 40%-70% of caregivers show significant signs of depression
- Only 12% of caregivers report using respite services
- 78% report needing more help and information about caregiving
- 35% of caregivers report having difficulty finding time for themselves,
- 29% report trouble balancing work and family responsibilities
As most of you know, being a caregiver can be extremely stressful, not giving yourself enough time in the day to worry about your own needs because you are always concerned about someone else’s. When you do focus on your needs, it may feel selfish and unnatural. It is important to understand that an essential part of being a caregiver is to make sure you put yourself first at times. While you may think it will compromise the care of your loved one, you have to understand that it will not. Both your life, and the life of your loved one, depends on your well-being.
With that being said, here are 6 helpful tips on how to manage caregiver stress and the busy lifestyle that comes with it.
1. Take A Break!
Many caregivers are so occupied with taking care of their loved one that they forget to take a break themselves. Even a few short 15 minute breaks each day can give you enough rest to get your energy levels back up to finish the day out strong. You can begin by arranging for alternative care for your loved one for short amounts of time so that you can do something that you enjoy. Another idea is to set aside time for a nap for your loved one. This can be a half hour to an hour of time that you can have to yourself. Remember, as long as your loved one has the proper support, your absence will not put them at risk!
2. Keep A Schedule For You
To ensure you get to enjoy the things that are important to you, it is important to keep a schedule that you can abide by. When you see something written down on paper, you are more likely to stick to that schedule. This allows you to give your appointments the same respect as those you make for others.
3. Respect Your Health
When you are preoccupied with someone else’s health, it is very easy to neglect your own. Caregiving can be physically and emotionally exhausting, leaving you at risk for illness due to a weakened immune system. Ensure you are eating healthy, and getting enough exercise. Even a quick walk around the neighborhood is better than nothing. Stay up to date with your doctor as well. Just as you would not let your loved one miss an important doctor’s appointment, make sure your own checkups do not go unchecked.
4. Get Enough Rest
I know what you are thinking, getting enough rest is easier said than done, especially if you are caring for someone who tends to be awake at times during the night. Still, 6-8 hours of sleep per night is imperative to maintaining good health. As mentioned above, breaks or naps during the day can also help out as much as getting a good night’s sleep.
5. Create A Care Manual
In the event that you have a caregiver come and watch your loved one, it is important that you provide them with the most information about your loved one as possible. This will ensure that the time you spend away from your loved one goes smoothly, both for your loved one and the caregiver. By creating a care manual, you can highlight important things such as specific instructions on diet, hygiene, daily rituals, medications, etc. Also, have some fun with your manual. Personalize it by putting in some photos of your loved one. This allows others to get to know your loved one as a person with a unique personality and likes and dislikes. Having the manual will save you a lot of time rather than writing the details out each time you have a different caregiver.
6. Respite Care & Trips
Respite care provides short term breaks that can relieve stress, restore energy, and promote a balance in your life. You can always ask family members or close family friends for their help in watching your loved one at times so you can get a break, but if that is a burden, there are many other respite care options available to support you and your loved one.
In-Home Respite Care
In-home respite care is a popular choice by caregivers who are looking for a brief respite break. By doing a quick search online, you can find many in-home services available in your area that can be provided. Services may last from a few hours to overnight, and can be arranged directly or through an agency. In-home care is the most popular choice, as it enables your loved one to remain in an environment that they are comfortable in.
Out-Of-Home Respite Care
Out-of-home respite care such as adult day programs are another option for caregivers who are looking for a much deserved respite. Adult day centers are designed for adults who can no longer manage independently. Some programs have planned activities to promote well-being through social and health services. Most operate during the daytime hours, Monday through Friday, in a safe, supportive and cheerful environment. Easter Seals New Jersey offers day programs throughout the state. To learn more about our day programs, click here. To download our program brochure, click here.
Respite trips for individuals with disabilities and special needs are a great way for caregivers to get a few days to themselves, while also ensuring their loved ones are in the hands of trained and caring professionals. Easter Seals New Jersey offers hotel and travel respites that are designed to accommodate adults of all abilities with the exception of individuals who have behavioral issues or medical needs requiring nursing support. To learn more about our Hotel and Travel Respites for people with disabilities, visit our website by clicking here.
Being a caregiver is one of the most important roles you can ever have, and can be emotionally and physically draining at times. Easter Seals New Jersey is here to help you keep yourself in a well-rested and healthy state by offering solutions to help you get the respite you deserve.
For all of you who are caregivers and devote your lives to helping others, Easter Seals New Jersey would like to thank you for all you do. We are here to help you be the best you can be, so you can continue to care for your precious loved ones as long as they need you. Happy National Family Caregivers Month!