10 Habits of Exceptionally Happy Caregivers
This is a great blog from our friends at A Place For Mom. If you are a caregiver or you know of someone who is a caregiver, you should read this, share this, pass this along...
Habits of Exceptionally Happy Caregivers
Well-rested, happy caregivers are crucial to the job. But the job is exhausting. So caregivers must balance caring for someone else and caring for themselves. Otherwise, they can burn out and even develop serious health problems.
Caregivers instinctively put a senior’s comfort and happiness above their own. But both are equally important. If caregivers sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their job, they won’t be any good to the seniors they serve.
The American Medical Association describes the role of a caregiver as a potential “occupational hazard.” Caregivers face incredible stress and are at risk of psychological and physical problems. Side effects of caregiving include general burnout, self-neglect, depression, family conflicts and more.
Happy Caregivers Care for Themselves
A Place for Mom has collected a series of tips for caregivers. Among these, “Take care of yourself” is repeated in different forms throughout the list. To a caregiver, that could mean a walk, time to read, a massage, or a day off, but taking care of yourself is essential and should become a regular part of the caregiver’s routine.
Here are some habits that happy caregivers practice to ensure their health and wellness remains a priority.
- Nurture your mind and body. Caregivers must replenish themselves physically and mentally. Joan Lunden started Camp Reveille as a getaway for women to spend time concentrating on their own well-being, which often goes neglected. Attendees can take part in exercise, educational and relaxation activities. In 2013, nearly 50% of the women who attended Camp Reveille were caregivers.
- Keep an eye on your health. According to Nurture Your Soul™, 70% of caregivers become sick with some type of health issue. And 50% of caregivers die before the person to whom they’re providing care.
- Find support. Take time each week to vent to friends or family members. It’s healthy. Some caregivers might even consider seeing a counselor they can rely on to help sort out frustrations.
- Eat healthy. A nutritious diet keeps energy levels up and health risks at bay. Seniors need to eat healthy too. So caregivers might think of preparing low-fat meals and snacks that incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables, and enjoying them with the senior, as a part of the job. To save time, they can ask friends or family members for help with meals as needed.
- Exercise. Staying active physically helps reduce stress and improve mood. It’s the ideal way to ward off health issues and diseases that can put a caregiver’s job at risk.
- Meditate. Consider activities that help you relax mentally. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing and music are just some of the ways to help a caregiver slow down and put things into perspective.
- Set personal goals. A class, a new hobby, a vacation, whatever the dream, caregivers should set and write down personal goals that remind them of what they want to achieve outside of their job.
- Keep a journal. Writing down frustrations is a good way to let them go. A journal is also a good place to record what went well for the day. Those words can serve as inspiration the next morning.
- Be grateful. Caring for a senior brings challenges and stress but also the opportunity to make someone else’s life easier and more enjoyable. It could be a last chance to spend time with a loved one who’s near the end.
- Take a day off. Friends and family members (or part-time elder companions) should fill in for caregivers on a regular basis. That way they can focus on themselves and their goals. This time is for caregivers to do what they like to do, not to run errands for their job.
Happy caregivers practice good habits in self-care. And they see the benefits when it comes to caring for others. So do the seniors they care for each day.
What habits do you recommend to help caregivers stay happy?