Tips for the Family Caregiver...

Sr. Gerontology Specialists Julie Elseroad offers tips for family caregivers.

Caregiving for a family member or loved one can be very stressful.  Because caring for a loved one can be all consuming, it can take a big toll on one’s health.  It is especially important for the caregiver to take care of themselves.  Here are six ways, as recommended in the December/January issue of AARP, for caregivers to take care of themselves.

  1. Make the freezer your friend.  Caregivers know what to eat they just don’t have the time to prepare proper meals for themselves.  Try making large amounts of food and freeze them in individual portions that can be reheated in the microwave.  Good examples are; stew, soup, chili, or
  2. Try meditation.  According to UCLA researchers, just 12 minutes per day can improve a caregiver’s mental health.
  3. Have healthy snacks available.  Avoid junk foods that fill you up but aren’t good for you.  Have fresh fruit and vegetables, whole almonds or an old favorite, peanut butter and jelly sandwich readily available.
  4. Slow down.  Whatever you’re doing, slow down. Rushing about is stressful and makes one more prone to accidents.  Remember if you go down the whole ship is in trouble.
  5. Volunteer.  This may sound crazy to you as you are so busy taking care of your loved one.  However, a 2011, University of Michigan study found that volunteers live longer than those who do not volunteer.  Doing something different will be gratifying and therapeutic.
  6. Improve your sleep habits.  Fatigue can raise ones levels of anxiety by
    more than 60 percent.  Try to sleep regular hours, in a dark room with no distractions. 

Caregiving is not something that everyone can do.  It’s important to know your limits and to listen to your body.  It’s also important to know when to ask for

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