Who is Caring for the Caregiver?
“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.” – Former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter.
So focused on the care they are giving, caregivers often forget to manage their own self-care. This is a large and important population of people who should not be forgotten. There are approximately 65 million family or friend caregivers in the United States. This is 29% of the adult population! It’s time to pay some attention to this large group that has gone barely recognized for years.
Caregiving can be a lonely, isolating and overwhelming world; support is the key to managing it. People tend to the keep the struggles of caring for a loved one to themselves for fear of how it would look if they shared that it was a struggle, or that they are exhausted and at times maybe even resentful for their situation. What also occurs is that people feel they would be selfish if they take time away from their loved one to attend to their own needs. What they don’t realize is that caring for themselves and sharing pent-up feelings is not only what they need, but it is also good for the person they are caring for.
I encourage all who are caregivers to put together a “Caring For Me” list. If you are not a caregiver but know one, take some time to help them put together their list. They’ll be surprised to realize the things that come up that they miss or need, and doubly surprised to realize how long it’s been since they’ve done any of these things for themselves.
Everyone’s list will be different, but here are some helpful ideas:
- Taking a walk or a bike ride
- Learning / taking yoga
- Going to the gym
- Invite a friend out for lunch
- Write a letter to a friend
- Find a good friend to talk to
- Set up an appointment with your pastor, priest, rabbi or spiritual guide (if applicable)
- Go to the movies
- Go to the library
- Take breaks from your caregiving to read
- Sit out in the sun
- Take a warm bath
- Listen to music
Sleep deprivation can cause many problems for the caregivers health and their ability to care for their loved one. If your sleep is being affected it is critical that you find some assistance to allow you some time to sleep.
Hopefully by not ignoring your needs you will feel a positive change physically and mentally. This should ultimately result in you having more patience, less frustration and more compassion, so that you can truly enjoy and be a part of the amazing moments that come along with being a caregiver.