Want To Care For Others? Take Care of Yourself.

May 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last week I came across a quote on Twitter from Dr. Andy Baldwin (@DrAndyBaldwin). He said, “Sometimes the best way to take care of the people you love is to take care of yourself.” I thought this was especially true for people who are caretakers of an elderly loved one. It is far too common for me to hear stories of caregivers who actually end up sick and incapacitated or even pass away before the person they were caring for.

It seems like there are new resources popping up all the time, so I’ve listed some tips and tools that I have recently come across. All can be useful ways to help prevent caregiver burnout and promote healthy living.

  • Find someone to talk to. Finding a group of peers that are experiencing similar caregiving woes, can be very helpful. Having someone who listens and can commiserate with you and sometimes offer suggestions is an invaluable tool. To find a group near you, check out meetup.com which is a website that helps to connect people with similar interests and experiences. Visitors to the site can search for group meetings by geographic area and you can even save searches and the site will alert you if a new group in a particular area of interest is created.

  • Try planting a garden this summer. I know you are probably thinking, “When do I have the time to plant a garden?” Even if you only buy one or two container vegetables or a small variety of herbs, you will see benefits according to an article from the Cleveland Clinic. Not only will you burn a few calories planting and tending to your plants, but you will be more inclined to eat the fruits of your labor. And since you won’t be growing cookie plants, you are more likely to eat fewer calories because of the fresh harvest you will be bringing in.

  • The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health has a good website for individuals who are looking for caregiving resources. One webpage is called the “Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet” and is devoted to caregiver topics such as identifying stress, how stress affects health and advice for finding respite care for your loved one.

  • Take up Tai Chi. Often touted as a mind/body exercise, Tai Chi is an exercise that has many benefits including reducing stress, increasing strength and boosting energy levels. The practice involves slow-flowing, choreographed and meditative movements that focus on the basic components of overall fitness: muscle strength, flexibility and balance. The other good thing about Tai Chi is that it is adaptable and safe for people of all ages and stages of health. If you don’t have time to go to a gym to take a class, there are many dvd’s available and even videos on youtube.com that will help you learn Tai Chi.

Another valuable tool is consulting with an elder law attorney. They can answer questions you may have about resources in your local area. They can also help you create a long term care plan if you decide that you need outside assistance to help care for your loved one.

If you have questions about caregiving and the resources available, The Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC is here to help. We are located in Sandwich, Illinois and focus on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Our office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.

   Every day of every week, Weekly Law is there for you.

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