|Roughly 8.1 million people, or 28 percent of Canadians over age 15, are caregivers assisting an aging, ill or disabled family member, spouse or loved one with activities of daily living. Some are spending as many as 20 hours per week providing care. Many caregivers, despite wanting to provide help and support to their loved one, find they feel stressed, overwhelmed and worn out. And, as many as 51 percent report symptoms of psychological distress as a direct result.As you likely know, caregiving can take its toll on the well-being of good-intentioned caregivers, which is all the more reason that their health and well-being should be a top consideration. For some simple tips you can offer your patients on combating the stressors associated with caring for aging parents, the disabled or others in need of help, keep reading.|
- Find respite care: A caregiver who is refreshed and reenergized can do a much better job of providing care for others. Pool all resources, including friends, family members, neighbours and even church members, who are willing to help give caregivers a much-needed break. There may also be local respite services that can help as well. Online resources like the Canadian Caregiver Coalition’s website can point caregivers to respite services in their area. Imprint their URLs on Stress Relievers and First-Aid Kits that can be shared with caregivers to promote these valuable resources.
- Utilize support groups: Support groups bring people facing similar challenges and experiences together. Sometimes, just talking with someone outside one’s immediate circle can help with coping, stress management and isolation. The Care-ing Voice Network connects caregivers with each other to provide support, and it has even more support tools such as tele-learning offerings. Print URLs and phone numbers for these helpful resources on magnet notepads and hand them out to staff, clients and patients.
- Be healthy: Eating well and exercising are vital to the health and well-being of caregivers. Diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, plus 20 minutes of exercise three times a week, promotes optimal health. And of course, the importance of regular check-ups and exams are just as important to the caregiver as the care receiver. Often these important preventative measures are overlooked and put on the back burner. Provide a logo’d calendar to assist in keeping track of upcoming doctor’s appointments.
- Get adequate rest: Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety by more than 60 percent. Fatigued caregivers are less able to maintain stamina and patience, so encourage good sleep habits—a dark room, white noise and minimal distractions can help. A light-blocking eye mask may be just the thing your sleep-deprived caregivers need to get a little much-needed rest.
Remember, a caregiver at his or her best will provide the best care possible. Tapping the help and support of those around them, eating well, exercising and getting adequate rest is essential as well.
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Mayo Clinic Staff. “Stress Management.” Support Groups: Make Connections, Get Help. N.p., 01 Aug. 2012. Web. Retrieved 06 Mar. 2014.
“Running on Empty.” Caregiver Stress Running on Empty Comments. N.p., 04 Jan. 2011. Web. Retrieved 06 Mar. 2014.
Sagon, Candy. “Caregiving Stress Busters.” AARP. N.p., Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013. Web. Retrieved 06 Mar. 2014.