Taking Care of Ourselves So we Can Care for Others
If you are one of the numerous individuals who act as a caregiver, it’s important that you take good care of your own health as well. Your pharmacist can offer advice to help you fulfill your caregiver role without putting your own health at risk.
Taking care of someone who is ill takes a lot of time and energy. People who do so usually do it out of devotion, without considering the impact that this can have on other aspects of their life (family life, relationship with their spouse, work life, etc.).
Taking good care of yourself first
A healthy diet is the base of good health. Indulging yourself with a treat once in a while (for example a glass of wine or a pastry) is fine; just make sure it doesn’t become a crutch that you use to relieve stress.
Exercise is excellent for your physical and mental health. No need to join a gym – you can just take a walk or dance around as you vacuum! The important thing is to be active every day, ideally for at least 30 minutes. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that fits into your busy schedule!
Managing your stress
Caregivers can have various sources of stress, such as:
- New responsibilities for which they have little or no training (providing care, handling someone’s finances, etc.)
- Lack of time to deal with many obligations
- Unrealistic expectations towards their own abilities or those of the person they are caring for
- Disagreements with the person they are caring for or other members of the family
- Feeling isolated
The first step is to identify the source of your stress so that you can look for solutions and seek help if required.
At the same time, adopting some healthy habits can help you cope with stress better. For example, you can try meditating or doing breathing exercises, or even take a few minutes a day to do a relaxing activity (taking a hot bath, reading before bed, listening to music, etc.). It’s also helpful to have someone you can confide in (a friend, colleague or health professional) so that you can verbalize your emotions and gain some perspective on them.
As a caregiver, you may sometimes feel that you are the only person who can do it all, but help is available. To help you have a better global view of the tasks at hand, make a list of what needs to be done and put it in order of priority. Next, choose your battles and delegate. If you don’t have anyone who can help, don’t hesitate to call aid agencies.
Many organizations can help with various problems
There are various services to help in every area of life, such as:
- Services that can help with housework or grocery shopping
- Prepared meal delivery services
- Adapted transportation services
- Day or respite services where the ill person can spend a few hours or days
- Home nursing services
- Caregiver support and exchange groups
- Legal or financial advice services
If you need help but aren’t sure which organization to contact, don’t hesitate to consult your pharmacist. They can assist in connecting you with the right services. You can also use the 211 service to find support available in your area.
Recognizing the signs of burnout
When we are completely invested in a caregiver relationship, it’s easy to ignore our signs of distress. However, it’s important to recognize them as soon as possible so that we can make the necessary changes or get the help we need.
If you are experiencing any of the following situations, consult your pharmacist, who can offer some support and help you find the resources you need:
- Significant fatigue or exhaustion
- Irritability, impatience
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite, or eating more than usual
- Feeling overwhelmed by the situation
- Feeling guilty for not being able to do more
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.