According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, nearly 44 million Americans provide “informal” (unpaid) care each year for family members and friends with chronic diseases or conditions. Informal caregiver duties can range from buying groceries and helping around the house to making important medical appointments and decisions. Depending on how much time and care is required, informal caregivers can find themselves burnt out, isolated, and with health problems of their own. These New Year’s Resolutions for informal caregivers can help you find your footing in 2019 and avoid caregiver burnout.
Take Care of Your Own Health
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve no doubt heard the instructions to put on your own oxygen mask before helping your child. This same principle is important in caregiving: if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be unable to take care of your friend or family member. While this seems obvious, it’s easy to let your own needs slide, especially when they feel less urgent than the needs of your family member. Schedule your yearly check-ups, find ways to implement a workout routine, get the recommended amount of sleep, and prioritize your own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs whenever possible.
Find a Support Network
Taking care of someone else can be isolating, but it’s important to realize you’re not alone. Not only are there plenty of people in the same situation as you, but there are organizations that exist to help you connect with them. Even if you can’t find a caregiver support group in your area, there are online caregiver support groups designed to help you connect with others, even when navigating a busy schedule.
Ask for Help When You Need It
It can be hard to ask for help, but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to offer assistance, especially when they know what would be most helpful. Next time someone asks you if there’s anything they can do to help, be prepared to answer. Maybe you’d love an hour or two a week for a favorite workout class or for a date night with your spouse. Maybe you’d be better able to attend to your own needs if someone else took care of dinner one night a week. If it makes it easier, remember that you’re asking for help for your loved one, not just for yourself.
Take Advantage of Temporary Respite Care
Did you know that many nursing homes offer temporary respite care? Rather than waiting to plan a vacation until a sibling or other family member is able or willing to come into town to help, you can arrange short-term stays with professional caregivers who are prepared to properly care for your loved one. This can also be a great way to give full-time care a trial run before making any long-term decisions. You can even find in-home senior care providers to spend some time with your loved one in the comfort of their own home.
Be Aware of Available Resources
Whether you’re looking to better understand different health problems and caregiving issues or the 2019 changes to Medicare Part D Coverage, you can find plenty of caregiver resources online. There are even programs to help pay for medications, including Simplefill prescription assistance. Apply for prescription help online today!