During this season of giving, I often think about those across the country who are providing long-term care to a family member. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 21% of households in the United States are impacted by caregiving responsibilities. The report shows that caregivers have difficulty finding time for themselves (35%), managing emotional and physical stress (29%), and balancing work and family responsibilities. Many caregivers do not get adequate sleep or physical activity. They don’t take the time to see their own doctor or get their own preventive screenings. Caregiving can be emotionally taxing, resulting in abuse of alcohol tobacco, or other drugs to deal with stress and depression.
Caregivers – give yourself the gift of self-care this holiday season! Try these tips:
- Care for yourself first. Imagine yourself on a plane that is experiencing turbulence. If the oxygen mask falls down, you are instructed to put it on yourself first so you can help others, including your children. When you take care of your needs first, you can more effectively help your loved one.
- Accept help when it is offered. The next time loved ones offer to help, let them do so! Make a list of responsibilities that others could help you complete, such as picking up groceries or prescriptions or staying with your loved one so you can take a 15-minute walk. Call someone who has asked to help in the past and take him or her up on the offer.
If you are not a caregiver but know someone who is, give him or her a call or stop by and donate your time. What better way to celebrate the holiday season than by truly giving to others?