Each year, more than 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult over the age of 50. Caregiving can range from simple tasks, such as taking an elderly parent to their medical appointments, to a full-time role helping someone with all of their daily tasks.
Caregiving is essential for many families and can be an emotionally rewarding experience for both the caregiver and recipient. At the same time, it may also have some negative impacts for the life of the caregiver.
Caregiving can be time consuming and stressful. It can make it more difficult to maintain physical and mental health, and it can strain capacity to participate in work and social activities. Caregivers should prioritize taking care of their own wellbeing in addition to their loved ones’.
Some things you can do when you are feeling overwhelmed as a caregiver include:
• Stay active: Find a physical activity you enjoy, even if you only do it for short periods of time each day.
• Practice relaxation techniques: Try meditation, yoga or listening to music.
• Prioritize sleep: Aim to get seven to nine hours, and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
• Reach out to others for support: Talk to family members or friends, seek counseling from a mental health professional or look for a caregiver support group to join.
• Take breaks sometimes: Ask family or friends to help out or hire professional aides for a couple hours each week.
Visit the National Institute on Aging’s “Tips for Caregivers” article to read more about caring for yourself as a caregiver.
Mental Health America also offers many mental health resources for caregivers. Visit their website to learn more.
Natalie Peters is the community health educator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.