There is no doubt that the vast majority of family caregivers do not even consider putting themselves first from day-to-day. And it’s not hard to understand why with the enormous amount of time and energy that care
giving can demand from a person. Many family caregivers also have dependent children to care for, or pets, a home and a job to attend. Sadly, it is also often the case that family caregivers feel guilty about taking time out for themselves, or worse, are made to feel that way by friends and family or other emotional influences.
As family caregivers usually unexpectedly find themselves thrust into this role, it is not surprising that they are typically unprepared for the stresses and strains that can come hand-in-hand with care giving. Many have to change their lives completely, give up their jobs and even lose relationships. This makes it all too common for family caregivers to develop health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, exhaustion or other chronic illness. And according to dementiastatistics.org, a whopping 43.9% of carers already have a long-standing illness or disability that they have to live with.
It’s not all doom and gloom however, care giving can be extremely rewarding and bring people closer than ever to their loved ones. It can also enhance family bonds as they pull together to face difficult challenges together. Furthermore, care giving can draw out inconceivable strength, determination and positivity from within people; qualities that are sometimes not that easy to attain. But unless caregivers practice self-care, they may be doing themselves and their loved ones more harm than good.
When we’re tired or exhausted as most caregivers will find themselves at one point or another, it’s so easy to make minor mistakes and have inconsequential accidents. Most of the time these can be fixed and forgotten about with simple remedies but on other occasions, these little oversights can have disastrous consequences for loved ones being cared for. Similarly, if a caregiver neglects their own wellbeing, health or safety, the inevitable deterioration in their abilities could negatively impact their loved ones, as they may no longer be able to provide the level of care that they need.
Although it may seem like a difficult concept to comprehend, let alone practise as a caregiver, a certain level of self-care should be made a top priority. Not only will caregivers be able to reap the obvious benefits to their own wellbeing and quality of life, self-care will enable them to continue to provide the high level of support to their loved ones, which they so lovingly strive to provide.
Coming soon to the TextCare blog, our top ways to practise self-care for family caregivers.