Caring for the Caregiver

Do you wish you had more resilience to deal with the curve balls life throws at you? I think all of us find it hard to bounce back after a crisis. Resilience transforms the daunting into the possible. It creates stamina and strength. If you’re a caregiver, building resilience can help immensely with keeping you healthy by reducing your vulnerability to stress.

Sometimes, caregivers are too busy to recognize signs of impending burnout. You can keep a handle on mental health by watching out for warning signs, including anger toward the person you’re caring for, nagging health problems (headaches), withdrawal from family and friends, sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety and depression.

Caring for someone is extremely daunting, so don’t think you can manage it alone. If you’re experiencing burnout, ask for help or consider hiring help, even if it’s just part-time.

Using relaxation techniques can also help to reduce your stress. Try several different techniques and see what appeals to you and what fits into your lifestyle. Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management. They are often free or low cost, pose little risk, and can be done nearly anywhere. Practicing relaxation techniques has many benefits, including:

  • Slowing heart rate
  • Lowering fatigue
  • Improving digestion
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Improving concentration and mood
  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
  • Increasing blood fl ow to major muscles
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively, finding humor in everyday situations, problem-solving, managing time, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.

When schedules get busy, exercise is usually the first thing to go. Make an effort to have time to work out. Do what you love and what gets you moving. It’s impossible to be a good caregiver unless you’re a good caregiver to yourself. Make sure to take some time each week for yourself. Doing something you love like reading, cooking or gardening is necessary for a balanced life.

Interacting with others who are going through what you’re going through can be a huge help. Interacting with others who are going through what you’re going through can be a huge help. Elk Run’s partner, Mount Evans Home Health Care and Hospice, offers a free monthly support group called “Caring for the Caregiver.”  The group meets the second Monday of each month from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Evans office.

For more information, call 303-679-8777. Elk Run by Augustana Care, a non-profit, faith based organization offers assisted living and respite services complete with caregiver assistance. Respite services are an option for families who need guilt-free time away from caregiving or for the person who needs additional rehabilitation before going home.