Caregiving is no easy job. People often say that motherhood is the hardest job on earth, and I have to believe that teachers, and caregivers are right up there in the ranks. Like the saying goes on an airplane, "if you’re travelling with passengers who need assistance, put your own mask on first before assisting other passengers.” That statement could not be more true when caring for a loved one, but often caregivers forgo taking care of themselves as they don't want to feel guilty or feel selfish.
What is the reasoning for this? Well, if the caregiver doesn't take care of his/herself, there will be no one to take care of the patient! You will be unconscious, or even dead, from the fumes and burn out. There is a big difference between being selfish and self-care. Selfishness is acting only in your best interest and not others' interests. But self-care ultimately is in others' interests as you are the best version of yourself and able to give to others once you respect yourself enough to slow down and care for yourself. And let's face it, you cannot give of yourself if you have an empty tank.
What are some basic tips for caregivers? Well, lets get b-a-s-i-c. How is your sleeping? How is your eating? When was the last time you went for a walk or exercised? When do you have time scheduled for self-care? Do you have a self-care plan? Make a list of things that are comforting to you and post it where you can see it. Choose one of these things a day and be intentional about caring for yourself. A few examples include: pets, massage, a hobby, cooking, listening to music, your favorite TV show...All of the above questions are great places to start when you are faced with caregiving. To end, I am going to list some great caregiving resources from the web, and encourage you to comment on this post if you have other resources to add. We have these uploaded to our website which we continue to update as we hear of other valuable sites.
Family Caregiver Alliance: Dedicated to those who care for a loved one with a chronic, disabling condition. Website includes multiple resources for information, education, services, research, and advocacy.
Family Caregiving 101: Resource for those caring for a loved one with a chronic condition Includes a message board.
Today's Caregiver: Website for Today's Caregiver magazine. Links to local resources, care tips, newsletters and more.
Well Spouse Association: The Well Spouse Association advocates for and addresses the needs of individuals caring for a chronically ill and/or disabled spouse/partner.