Gary's Guidance: Taking Care of Yourself as the Caregiver

April 2015

Usually being a caregiver is the one who is on the front line of duty and the primary person responsible for providing care.  In a personal care facility, nursing home or an assisted living facility there are multiple caregivers who take turns being the primary caregiver for their senior residents.  In a home the responsibility normally falls upon a family member unless the family makes use of a home care agency that provides a care aide to support the elderly person aging in place.

Regardless of the setting, it is common for caregivers to experience stress that can lead to burnout which is detrimental not only to the senior, but also to the person providing care.  Caregivers may experience fatigue, anxiety, guilt, irritability or agitation, and even depression.  Not taking care of oneself can lead to other health problems.  Caregivers need support too and here are some things to consider doing:

  • Self-care: re-evaluate how you are spending your time and what you have control of.  Make a list of what you can do such as:
  1. Physical exercise with music
  2. Meditate
  3. Re-start the hobby that stopped or investigate a new interest
  4. Eat a healthier diet
  5. Sleep more
  6. Practice gratitude
  7. Stay connected to supportive people & friends
  8. Make time for practicing spirituality
  9. Make time for doctors’ appointments
  10. Confront negative thinking: redirect your thoughts into positive experiences/memories and accentuate those positive thoughts by tapping into sensual memories of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste.  Redirect your behavior into a diversion activity that you enjoy.
  11. Ask for help or seek support from religious or community organizations

Taking responsibility for any one of the above is a first step towards well-being.

Gary Kozick, LCSW