|~by Mary Damiano
Recharging your batteries is one of the most important ways to help your loved one.
R: Rest. One of the most important things a caregiver can do for the person they’re caring for is to take care of themselves. A caregiver who wears himself out, and keeps going 24/7 risks burnout.
E: Eat right. Take a cue from your loved one’s diet and take the opportunity to eat healthy things as well. Maybe you don’t have to adhere to such a strict diet, but eating right certainly never hurts.
C: Communicate your needs to others. Don’t expect anyone, even other family members to read your mind about what you need or what your loved one needs. Let people around you know the things that need to be done and that occasionally; even you could use a hand.
H: Hydrate. Drink lots of water. Water hydrates your body and keeps you energized.
Take vitamins if you don’t get enough nutrition from your food
A: Accept help. This can be the hardest thing for the caregiver to do, but it’s one of the best things a caregiver can do for their loved one and for themselves. When people offer to help, often caregivers turn them down because they don’t want to burden them or because they can’t think of something off the top of their heads. Get over the notion that the only way to get it done is to do it yourself. When you have a few moments, really think about the kinds of things that will make life a little easier. Then when people ask how they can help, you’ll be ready. When you tell someone something very specific, they’re more comfortable doing it, and you’ll get the help you need. Helping makes people feel good about themselves. Don’t deprive anyone of that joy.
R: Respite. Caregivers should make a point of getting away sometimes, to take a mini-respite for themselves. A movie, lunch somewhere, window shopping or just walking along the beach or through a park can be enough to get some distance, and come back with a fresh perspective on things.
G: Get enough sleep. This is often the hardest one to manage because you’re on someone else’s schedule. But sleep is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Eight hours are ideal, but the concept of getting eight uninterrupted hours of sleep might be impossible. Try breaking sleep up. Get what you can in one shot, but take a nap during the day. A short nap can be very refreshing and just the thing you need to get you through the day.
E: Exercise. Anything will help. Walk around the block a few times a day when you have a few spare minutes. Try yoga, something that will exercise your muscles, yet relax your mind. Meditate. Spend a few minutes alone and quiet.