For the first time in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, senior citizens are expected to outnumber children within the next few decades. “By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older,” says Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. That includes all baby boomers reaching age 65 or older by 2030.
This means that in the coming decades, it will be more important than ever for those people caring from their elderly parents to practice healthy caregiving techniques – for the seniors they look after, as well as for themselves.
November is National Family Caregivers Month, which means it’s a good time to raise awareness about caregiving techniques. Here are a few to get you started on the right path.
First, what is a caregiver?
“A caregiver is anyone who [is not a healthcare professional that] provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative,” according to the Mayo Clinic. This currently covers about one in three adults in the U.S. This number will rise in coming years.
While caring for someone you love who is ill or aging can be rewarding in its own way, but it can also take its toll on the caregiver emotionally, physically, and financially. As the roles between parent and child switch, the strain of watching a loved one age and possibly eventually fall ill due to common health ailments such as dementia or heart disease, combined with the stress of paying medical bills or finding the time to visit and care for a loved one, can be difficult. Sometimes, your own health and well-being may suffer as a result.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired often
- Sleep problems
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Anger or irritation
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Headaches or chronic pain
- Drug or alcohol abuse [Source]
That’s why taking care of your own health and well-being is just as important as caring for your loved one’s health and well-being.
9 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
- Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed, ask a friend to help run an errand.
- Prioritize and set realistic goals. By organizing your workload and making small to-do lists, you can get things done faster and easier. This will also help you establish a daily routine.
- Learn to say no. Don’t feel obligated to get involved in outside activities or extra responsibilities right now, such as leadership roles at work, hosting a family dinner for the holidays, or volunteering at your child’s school.
- Use community resources. There are many caregiving resources in your community, such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping services that may lighten your load.
- Join a support group. This is a great way to make friends with other caregivers.
- Plan “me” time. Each week set aside a few hours for solitude, when you can do whatever it is that brings you joy, peace, and harmony.
- Stay social. Stay connected to friends and family to reinforce your own emotional support system.
- Take care of your own health. Set goals weekly goals to establish a good sleep routine, eat nutritious meals, stay physically active, and to drink enough water. Also fill any nutritional gaps in your diet with multivitamins and supplements from trusted natural brands like Herb Pharm and Douglas Laboratories.
- Visit your doctor. Stay up-to-date on annual physicals and wellness exams; get recommended vaccinations; and tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. [Source]
What important tips for caregivers do you have? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below.