As a caregiver, it is important to make sure you are taking proper care of yourself so that you can effectively care and advocate for others. So often, we become bogged down in all the things on our to-do list of life that we put our own self-care at the bottom of the pile.
For every person with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is estimated that one to four family members are involved in his or her caregiving in some way. As a caregiver, you not only care for and make hard decisions for a loved one, but you also deal with the personal emotions and grief that come along with watching their decline.
Obviously, in the case of an emergency, you may need to put your own self-care aside and take care of the situation. But in general, too many people are allowing the needs of others to come before their own health and wellness needs, and that’s bad news for everyone.
According to a recent study by the Alzheimer’s Association, 74 percent of caregivers reported being “somewhat more concerned” to “very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver. Depression, anxiety, sleep issues and even suicidal thoughts aren’t uncommon for caregivers — so create strategies to deal with stress, get some time off and stay healthy through the journey.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish — it’s vital. When you are stressed out, exhausted and run down, your ability to make sound decisions is diminished. Your immune system is lowered and your overall quality of life is affected.
Putting yourself first on a regular basis and taking care of your physical and mental health will help you to do your best for everyone else in your life as well. Take some time to consider how you are doing in the self-care department and where you might make some changes to increase your health and happiness and decrease your stress levels.
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