Caring for a loved one often becomes all-consuming. Yet, to provide the best possible care, the caregiver needs to make sure they stay healthy and happy. Consider focusing on the following 5 healthy habits for family caregivers to stay well and provide the best care possible.
Make it a priority to fit in exercise at least three times a week. Even a ten minute walk can count as exercise and provides benefits. This will improve your health, energy level, and mood. For some exercise ideas, check out our blog post: 3 Easy Exercises to Relieve Stress as a Caregiver.
Although it may feel like you only have time for fast food, it is important to eat well. Prepare multiple meals over the weekend so you can quickly pull something healthy out and heat it up. Make double or triple batches of meals when you do cook so you have extras for the future. Consider using a crockpot so your meal cooks while you are away from home. Don't forget about simple meals, like salads and sandwiches. They are easy to make and much healthier than fast food. Create healthy snacks by cutting up fruit and vegetables and putting them in individual serving bags. If healthy food is easy to grab, you will be more likely to consume it.
Your body needs enough sleep to function and prevent illness. Many caregivers report they struggle to get adequate sleep. Attempt to follow a sleep schedule so your body expects to go to bed at a certain time and wake up at a certain time. If you struggle to get enough sleep each night, take naps during the day. When your loved one naps, take a nap as well.
Focus on Your Marriage
Many caregivers report that caregiving puts a strain on their marriage because they no longer have time for their spouse. Try to focus on your marriage by setting aside alone time. Some couples find it works best if they set aside a regular time, such as every Friday night.
Ask for Help
Caregiver burnout is a serious issue. To avoid chronic stress, ask for help. Have friends and family members provide support with specific tasks. Consider hiring a home aide to take care of your loved one so you can have a break. Accept that you will not be able to do it all, yet you need stay healthy yourself.
The health of the caregiver is often overlooked. Implementing the above five healthy habits is important for all family caregivers. At Caring Senior Service we are always ready to help seniors and their families by providing professional advice and services. For more information on how to avoid caregiver burnout, refer to our Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet.