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11 new year's de-stressing tips for family caregivers

Use these helpful tips to empower yourself in 2015.

As a team of dedicated home health care professionals, our top priority is to provide compassionate and personalized care for our clients, making sure they can live comfortably and safely in their own homes. However, Careforce’s caregivers also work hard to help others – selfless family members, adult children, and community members – who are involved in caring for their loved ones. All too often, we observe these generous people experiencing ‘caregiver fatigue’ – a sense of being completely overwhelmed by their care-giving commitments.

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So, this article is dedicated to you – the caregiver. Here are 11 strategies you can use to increase energy, reduce tension, and give your loved ones your absolute best. 

  1. Look for help outside the home – church groups and social groups are often willing to help out, they just need to know how. Don’t be afraid to ask – there have never been more retirees looking for ways to contribute to the health of their communities. A break of 1-2 hours per week could change your world.

  2. Talk it out – commiserating can be great therapy for caregivers. There are many people experiencing your same challenges – find them and talk to them. Sometimes all a caregiver needs is to know they’re not alone. There are a number of caregiver support groups, including those offered by Caregivers Nova Scotia.

  3. Exercise – no time for the gym? Even a 10 minute de-stressing walk can help. A breath of fresh air goes a long way.

  4. Prioritize and pick your battles – remember that you are only one person and you can’t do it all. Go easy on yourself, set priorities, and don’t trick yourself into thinking you can do everything.

  5. Consider how technology can help – there has never been a better time to let technology help you manage family care. GPS, remote monitoring systems, and web-based software can do amazing things these days. For example, GPS watches and Family 1st Medical’s menu of home care products are affordable and liberating.

  6. Keep ‘to-do’ lists: this is good advice for anybody, but particularly so for time-strapped family caregivers. Follow each item on your ‘to-do’ list with a few notes, such as (a) who can help me with this? (b) What’s my deadline? And (c) what would happen if I didn’t do this? (you’d be surprised how many items on your to-do list aren’t really essential).

  7. Learn to say ‘no’: one of the most empowering words in the English language is also one of the shortest. By saying ‘no’ more often (to requests for help from friends or loved ones, or even to social outings you don’t have time for), you can take better control of your time and free yourself from carrying too much on your shoulders.

  8. Laugh at yourself: sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud at the caregiving situation you’re in (even if it might seem inappropriate), or how you’re handling it. Laughter is the best medicine.

  9. Cook in bulk: if part of your role as a caregiver includes meal preparation, be sure to consider making lots of food at once, and freezing the leftovers. Slow cookers and crock pots are great for preparing soups, chilis, and casseroles.

  10. Reward yourself: declare to yourself that you have worked hard and set a reward system. The reward can be big (a vacation) or small (some chocolate, or a foot massage), but whatever it is, continue to remind yourself that you’ve earned it!

  11. Let go of the things you can’t control: as a family caregiver, there are many circumstances and incidents far beyond your control. Take the time to recognize what you cannot control (i.e. that a family member has Alzheimer’s), and focus only on the things you can control (i.e. providing them with comfort and care).

If you think Careforce may be able to help you de-stress by helping you care for a loved one, please call us at 365-3155 or email us at careforce@careforce.ca. We are always here to talk with you.