Taking on the task of caregiver for an older or dependent adult can be challenging and stressful. It can also be rewarding. Knowing you’re contributing to your loved one’s quality of life is a good feeling. However, the burden of providing the care and assistance someone else needs can sometimes seem like too much to handle.
On its own, the responsibility of caring for an older family member is daunting but add to that the challenges of a job and your own young and growing family, and you have a recipe for self-neglect.
Even if you’re responsible for ensuring the health and safety of another person, you need to look out for yourself as well. Your physical and mental health shouldn’t suffer. It’s impossible to be an effective caregiver if you don’t give yourself a break every once in a while to do the things you enjoy. You could schedule a dinner date with your friends, go for a long walk, or spend a night by yourself relaxing.
Below are the best ways to maintain your independence while caring for a loved one.
Take a Day Off Each Week
Many caregivers tend to a parent’s or another older adult’s every need. There’s never a moment they’re not thinking about or caring for their loved one.
However, it’s critical not to let the responsibility consume you. You don’t have to work every day. Give yourself a break and take one night off every week.
Spending every second of every day taking care of a dependent adult prevents you from caring for yourself. If you have kids, you can’t be a present and effective parent. When your workweek is only six days or even five, you allow yourself to rest, recharge, and focus on other important things in your life.
Take an Hour for Yourself Every Day
One hour might not seem like much time to other people, but as a caregiver, it’s everything. Many people who care for someone don’t want to leave their charge unattended. They might skip showers until their parent goes to sleep or ignore their own hunger to tend to the dependent adult’s needs.
The reality is that you can’t spend every second watching what your loved one does. You must take time for yourself every day, even if it’s only for an hour. Whether you enjoy reading a book, going for a walk, or napping, spend an hour each day doing the things you love.
Stay in Shape
You should be in adequate physical shape to provide the care your loved one needs. That means you should exercise regularly. Part of remaining independent and having your own life while caring for someone else means maintaining your good health.
You can go to the gym, jog outside in the fresh air, or follow an online fitness video at home. You can get in a good workout during your one hour of alone time a day or find a more convenient time. Exercising keeps you in shape while boosting your immune system and clearing your mind.
Ask Others for Help
Despite taking on the role of caregiver, you don’t have to do it alone. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need or want it. You can reduce your stress and find more time to tend to your own needs when you allow others to step in and assist your loved one with their daily routine.
You can pass off caregiver duties to your sibling for a few hours each day or ask a relative to chip in once a week. It’s vital to discuss the arrangements beforehand and create a schedule, so the dependent or older adult is never alone. Having the necessary help gives you the freedom and independence to live your life how you want.
If you’re taking care of a loved one or considering becoming a caregiver, do not hesitate to contact us. Our trusted and dedicated Central Minnesota elder law attorney can assist you with your needs and guide you through the process of caring for a dependent adult, even while you’re still managing your own already-full life.