There are many carers in the world, from nurses and mothers to those who dedicate their whole life to caring for a loved one who has been injured in an accident or who suffers from some form of dementia. Caring for others is the kind of work that is high in satisfaction, but even so, carers need to take care of themselves as well, because the job is emotionally and often physically demanding.
Very often, we see tragic circumstances where the carer gave their all – basically their life – for their loved one and died first, leaving the person they cared for without any support. In the case of a retarded child, this can have a terrible effect on them. Their carer insisted on doing all for the child for many years, thinking that such independence was a good thing.
In reality, it simply made their child depend on them completely so that once they were gone, not having them was a bigger emotional shock than it should have been. So the first thing every carer should know is this; they need to have a good support network to help them and the person they care for.
Even when the work of caring is relatively easy – you may not have to lift them in and out of bed, for instance, it is still essential to take care of yourself. Being a carer can be emotionally stressful, especially when you see a loved one’s mind being stolen by dementia. Such stress can cause you to become physically ill so that you simply can’t care for your loved one they way you want to. So here are some tips on caring for yourself when you are a carer:
- Find professional help to advise you the best ways to care for your loved one.
- If possible, take them out to a place where they can be supervised without you, then do something nice for yourself.
- Keep in touch with friends and invite them for coffee and chat.
- Take advantage of short-care facilities at hospitals so you can have some time off, free of care and responsibility.
- Take up a hobby that you can do at home during those times when your loved one is napping or otherwise engaged.
- Have someone in to do the housework every so often, so you get a break.
- Focus on easy to prepare meals that are nutritious as well. Salads take little preparation yet are very healthy meal choices.
- If you feel run-down, take supplements or see a doctor to make sure your health is not suffering.
- If you have other family in the house, learn to delegate jobs so you are not ‘on duty’ 24/7. Even children can to the washing, load the dishwasher, vacuum the floor or prepare a sandwich.
Once you start to care for yourself, the quality of care for your loved one will improve.