Many people with disabilities rely on the help of dedicated caregivers to lead an active and healthy life. Being a caregiver is rewarding, but the hours can be long and draining. That’s why, as part of our Giving Thanks series, we wanted to dedicate this post to caregivers. Also, we wanted to provide them with some helpful resources. With all that caregivers do for their clients, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank them and encourage them to take care of themselves, too!
There are some basic self-care strategies that caregivers can use to prevent burnout and stress. Further, there are also organizations dedicated to supporting caregivers.
Self-Care for Caregivers
For caregivers, it can sometimes feel like there’s no time for their own self-care, or that they shouldn’t take time away from their client or loved one to attend to their own needs. Instead, taking some time for self-care can help caregivers do a better job of caring for others. Ignoring your own needs can lead to burnout and chronic stress.
Having trouble thinking of ways you can take care of yourself as a caregiver? Here are some tips to get started:
- Get enough rest. You need good quality sleep to keep up with your daily responsibilities.
- Stay hydrated and nourished with quality food. Carry a big water bottle to make sure you’re hydrating during the day, and pack a healthy lunch when you can. Try not to skip breakfast.
- Try meditation and coping mechanisms for stress. You could try a morning meditation practice before your day begins. Alternatively, you could learn some short mantras that you can repeat in stressful moments. For example, “Let it go” or “This will pass” could work.
- Find a hobby and do something you enjoy on a regular basis. Making time for your own interests can help you avoid caregiver burnout.
- Ask for help. You can’t do it all alone, whether you need someone to fill in for you so you can get a break, or you just need a supportive friend to listen–it’s not easy to ask for help, but it’s worth it.
Resources for Caregivers
When you need more than basic self-care, there are organizations that are there to help. These groups can provide valuable advice and support, facilitate connections with other caregivers, and help caregivers stay up-to-date on new policies and resources. Thus, here are some of the organizations that caregivers can reach out to for assistance:
National Center on Caregiving: This group can help you with policy issues, caregiver education, and information about the latest research.
Caregiver Action Network: CAN fosters community among caregivers and provides resources tailored to caring for specific types of patients.
National Family Caregiver Support Program: This federal program provides caregivers with access to services, training, and respite care.
Support for ALS Caregivers: The ALS Association provides connections to respite care, an online calendar to help families coordinate care, and educational information specific to ALS caregivers.
National Organization for Rare Disorders Caregiver Resource Center: Caring for someone with a rare disease can feel isolating. Thus, NORD provides resources including educational videos and webinars, connections to resources for specific conditions, and financial support.
Well Spouse Association: This organization supports spousal caregivers by facilitating in-person and online support groups, providing connections to respite care, and hosting conferences and special events.
Taking Care of Yourself
It’s natural for caregivers to feel hesitant or guilty about asking for help. However, we want you to know that taking care of yourself makes you a more effective caregiver. We hope that you find the resources you need to support your own health, happiness, and motivation. Thank you for all that you do! Contact us to learn more.