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Healthy Habits for Family Caregivers

By Dian Brannen, 8:00 am on

Studies show that family caregivers tend to neglect their own health needs, often foregoing preventative health measures like getting annual physical exams, sticking to a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. Making an effort to stay healthy, however, can help family caregivers remain alert and attentive when caring for their loved ones. The following are just a few healthy habits that can help protect your own health, as well as ensure the quality of care that you provide.

Ask for Help

Seek out and accept any assistance that’s offered. The extra help can also reduce stress and anxiety. Consider:

  • Dividing responsibilities among other family members
  • Asking friends to help with small errands such as grocery shopping
  • Hiring a professional hourly home caregiver to give yourself a break

Get Regular Exercise

If you haven’t done so already, start a regular exercise schedule. You can even incorporate your daily exercise into your caregiving routine by taking your loved one for daily walks or participating in a low-intensity exercise class together. Consider:

  • Taking short walks by yourself (also gives you time to clear your head and relax)
  • Working out with a friend (for added support and encouragement)

Schedule Doctors’ Appointments Together

If finding time to go to the doctor for yourself is a problem, consider scheduling doctors’ appointments together with your loved one. Oftentimes, physicians are more than willing to accommodate scheduling joint appointments, which can have benefits for both caregivers and their loved ones.

Set Aside Time for Family/Spouse

Caregivers sometimes neglect the needs of their immediate family members and spouses out of a perceived need to devote all of their attention to their loved one’s needs. Taking time to discuss things with your family or spouse can help ease any tension and possibly encourage a productive dialog while establishing a strong support system that can also benefit caregivers. Consider:

  • Participating in a support group together
  • Setting aside regular family time

When it comes to easing financial stress, some states have special funding for caregiving support available through Medicare. Caregiver tax deductions are also available, and some insurance companies offer coverage through long-term care provisions.

If your caregiver responsibilities are affecting your personal health and your relationships, it may be time to look into respite care services. With the assistance of a professional and highly trained caregiver, you can take the break you need while knowing that your loved one is in safe and caring hands. For more information about senior home care in the Lehigh Valley, visit www.homecareassistancelehighvalley.com or reach out to a Home Care Assistance Care Manager at 484-350-3874 today.