Keeping Your Chin Up as a Caregiver

Posted on April 18, 2018

windowProviding end of life care is never easy. The stress can take its toll on family members and other informal caregivers over time, both physically and mentally. A study has found that 23% of family caregivers  experience symptoms of moderate to severe depression at some point while looking after a loved one. If you provide end of life care at home,  it's important to remember to take the time to look after yourself as well as your loved one. If you're feeling emotionally drained or burned out, you won't be able to provide the best possible level of care.


The life of a caregiver
Providing part-time or full-time hospice care is always a rewarding experience, but there's no denying that it can sometimes be stressful. Being a caregiver means giving up certain parts of your life to dedicate yourself to your responsibilities better. This may mean cutting back hours at work or spending less time with friends, both of which can lead to a feeling of isolation. Caregiving can even lead to reciprocal suffering,  causing spiritual, psychological, and even physical pain.

All of this can make it tempting to feel angry or bitter at times or even to lose faith. These negative emotions are perfectly natural, and you shouldn't feel anxious or guilty about feelings of resentment. Instead, you should recognize that it may be time to focus a little bit more on yourself and tend to your own needs. Having some time for yourself for reflection and meditation can improve your spiritual and emotional well-being,  which in turn, can have a positive impact on your overall health.

Practicing a healhty lifestyle
One of the best things that you can do to improve your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is to eat healthily and exercise. While this may seem simple, for caregivers, it can be tough to find the time to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s essential that you don’t neglect your own needs when caring for another, however. You should aim to eat a well-balanced diet, complete with plenty of fresh produce and lean meats. If you don’t have time to cook each day, you can meal prep once a week to save time. You should also find at least thirty minutes each day to engage in some light physical activity . If you’re unable to leave the house, it may be a good idea to invest in some home exercise equipment.


Seeking support
To combat the isolation that too often accompanies caregiving duties, it’s a good idea to build a support network for yourself. Many cities have local caregiver groups where you can meet others who can understand and empathize with your situation as well as offer advice. If you don’t have time to go to meetups, you can also find support groups online. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, it may also be a good idea to look into professional mental health services. Many religious institutions also offer counseling and spiritual support for end of life caregivers. Providing end of life care for a loved one can be an emotionally taxing time for friends and family. It's easy to burn out quickly, and so it's essential that you remember to take the time to care for yourself as well and make sure your emotional and spiritual needs are met. With a clear mind, you can better focus on making sure that your loved one as comfortable and content as possible.


By freelance writer, Jane Zachery


About End With Care

End With Care Corp is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization helping to provide end-of-life information and access to resources found
throughout Massachusetts.

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