No one prepared you to be a caregiver. You did it because you care. I know you care because you are here reading this blog post. I know you want to be a better caregiver because you continue to seek out information.
Your next step is to take some action, and I want to help. I have created this simple plan, “7 Days To Become A Better Caregiver”, to support you in becoming the best caregiver you can be. These small steps will add up to make it easier for you and your loved one.
DAY 1: Spend 30 Minutes A Day With Yourself
Set aside 30 minutes to get away from all caregiver responsibilities, and just think about yourself. Use this time to read, soak in the tub, take a nap, pray, or simply sit outside in the backyard.
DAY 2: Set Some Goals For Yourself
Yes, you need some goals. Even simple ones – daily or weekly tasks. Dream a little. It will help you to have something to look forward to, and to work towards.
DAY 3: Find A Caregiver Buddy
Find another caregiver friend whom you can talk with, vent to, share stories with, and ask for advice. Take turns relieving each other or sitting with loved ones.
DAY 4: Plan A Healthier Lifestyle
Are you eating a healthy diet? Are you exercising regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? This isn’t about vanity. It’s about treating your body well and feeling good, so you have the energy and stamina to help care for someone else. Today, make a list of which foods to eat more of, and those you might cut down on. Incorporate fun exercises into your caregiving routine. Do them daily.
DAY 5: Search For Resources
Where can you get help if you need it? There are resources for help, advice, and respite. There are people to help you to find the support or help that you need. Contact at least one today. Check out the CircleOf Resource Center, and read ToulasTipsForCaregivers.com.
DAY 6: Once A Week, Take 2 to 4 Hours For Yourself
Take a long break to recharge. Go to a movie. Take a drive. Write. Volunteer. Visit someone, or a place (museum, park, etc.) Take a class. See the doctor; get your annual physical.
DAY 7: Set Aside 30 Minutes With Your Loved One
Remind yourself that you are family—whether blood or chosen—not just a caregiver. Do an activity together, maybe something your loved one liked to do. Draw or color, or work in the garden. Have a conversation. Reminisce.
Simple! Right? With all you have to do, I want to make it easy. By taking these little steps each day of the week, you will find yourself healthier, more prepared, and less stressed. Even better, your loved one may be happier.