November is National Caregiver’s Month, and chances are, you have a caregiver in your life. In fact, the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute reported in 2015 there were approximately 34.2 million Americans who provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. On average, they spend over 24 hours each week tending to their loved one, while 23% of them reported spending 41 or more hours. For so many people, caregiving is a full time job with lots of overtime.
While selflessness might be a hallmark of a caregiver’s nature, it remains true that if they don’t tend to their own physical, mental, and emotional needs, they will eventually burn out and will not be able to attend to their loved one.
If you’re a caregiver, here are a few ways to find relief (from the experts at the Mayo Clinic):
- Accept help from others and be specific when letting them know what you need.
- Set realistic goals for you and your family, and if you need to, say no to requests like hosting holiday meals or family parties.
- Look in your community for classes, support groups, and help with transportation and even meal delivery.
- Make time for family and friends who offer nonjudgmental emotional support, even if it’s just 20 minutes for a cup of coffee or a walk in the park.
- Don’t neglect your own personal health. Maintain a good sleep routine, eat healthy, and remain physically active.
- See your doctor and be sure to tell him or her you’re a caregiver. Always tell them about any concerns you have or negative symptoms you’re experiencing.
Even if you’re not a caregiver, share this article with someone you know who is!