Taking care of the caregiver
Taking care of a loved one is a great act of devotion and sacrifice. In the United States, there are about 66 million unpaid caregivers, men and women who are looking after the needs of another person, often a family member. This represents one in three households that care for another person or family member.
According to a 2009 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, the average caregiver has been in his or her role for 4.6 years and spends 20.4 hours per week providing care.
Caring for another person is like having a second job. About 17% of caregivers feel their health has gotten worse as a result of caregiving, and three in ten rate their experience “emotionally stressful.”
So the question becomes, who is taking care of the caregiver? The answer is that caregivers have to learn how to practice excellent self care, and create a support network in order to maintain physical and emotional health and avoid burnout.
Taking responsibility for self care
When an airplane loses cabin pressure and the oxygen masks drop, airline employees always give instruction to place your own mask on first before helping anyone else with theirs. Taking care of someone with a chronic or progressive illness or a debilitating injury is a labor of love. With proper coping strategies, the caregiver can not only survive, but thrive; but they’ve got to have their oxygen mask on first.
Here are some ways a caregiver can get his or her needs met:
1. Ask for help when it is needed.
2. Make time for fun. Half of caregivers (53%) say that caregiving takes time away from friends and other family members. Try to make time for your other relationships and outside activities, finding alternative care options for your loved one.