If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, Alzheimer’s or another illness, taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for them and you. Being a caregiver can take so much out of you mentally, physically, and emotionally, but there are things you can do to reduce some of the negative effects.
Let’s focus on three areas of self-care:
Maintaining your health is imperative while caring for someone else for obvious reasons. If your health is compromised it may affect your ability to make important decisions about your loved one’s health and/or keep you from being able to take care of them altogether. Eating right and getting enough sleep can help keep you energized and focused. Start by eating three meals per day that include the five food groups your body needs to stay healthy.
Adopt good sleeping habits to insure you are getting a sufficient amount of sleep at night. Some of these habits can include the following:
- Eliminate caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Go to bed each night and wake up every morning at the same time.
- Avoid eating a big meal right before bedtime.
- Keep electronics such as smartphones and TVs out of the bedroom.
- Try for at least 7 or more hours of sleep per night.
Be as consistent as possible with these habits and listen to your body.
Exercise has many, many benefits to include strengthening your heart and bones, reducing your risk for certain illnesses, and improving your mental health. Always see your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen. Recommended exercise guidelines suggest the average adult should get 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, ballroom dancing, swimming, etc. Strength training exercises should be done at least two non-consecutive days per week.
Support is also an important part of self-care. Know when to ask for help and don’t be afraid to do so. Look for local caregiver support groups for advice, resources, and to connect with others going through similar struggles.
Lastly, all of these things are cost-effective and budget friendly. Caring for yourself decreases medical spending that would otherwise increase if you are unhealthy. Investing in your own health helps everyone you care about.