Taking Care of Yourself While You Take Care of Others

Living with south asian in-laws

By  Zehra  @whatsinmypurse and online at wimp.blog.com

Aging Moms taking care of Aging Dads

As we all know our moms, aunties, babhis, dadis and nanis all go through a period in their lives where they become caregivers for their aging, ailing husbands.  This role often demands sacrifice and selflessness that can be all too consuming and can begin to affect your own health.

So how do we shift perspective by allowing these women to give permission to take care of themselves, too?  We all know about the oxygen mask example in the plane – you have to put it on yourself before you can help anyone else…

As a caregiver, you have to realize that it has to be up to you to look after your own health while giving care –

Here are some tips that I hope will help …

Nurturing your own identity – we all have our identities as mom, daughter and wife but what identity to we have for ourselves that allow for all those to be encompassed and incorporated into our own identity.

Delegating responsibility – we tend to take on everything while caregiving instead of delegating things that would reduce our stress. If someone offers to help let them – picking up groceries for you occasionally, paying some money to have a cleaner come in, asking a neighbour to take the garbage out for you. Don’t hesitate in accessing social services such as nurses, seniors programs to help.

Having supports group or supportive people around you – this can be anyone whose company boosts your spirits, not someone it “should” be, such as a family member. It can be someone at your faith- based organization, someone new that you have met who also has an aging husband or a friend that you can confide in.

Managing your stress levels – perceptions of stress/negativity. What is stress you can control and what is not?  The aging process is not in our control, so we may need to understand that and focus on coping with it better, rather than solving it.

Not accepting blame/guilt/obligation – the situation is not your fault, you are not responsible for it, nor are you to blame when the care does not make your husband happy or family happy. You can’t be responsible for all things and keeping things perfect; you can only do your best.

Taking time for yourself – this could be an hour a day for a walk, a show on TV, a book, meditation, whatever you want to do –not an errand.

Exercising – some form of exercise is ideal and could mean a walk for 15 minutes or some light stretching in the morning. Exercise promotes better sleep, reduces tension and depression and increases energy and alertness.

Resting – sleeping on time and at the same time every day or taking a nap in the day when your husband is sleeping can also energize you.

Nutrition – avoiding salty fried foods and remembering to drink lots of water – this will avoid headaches and crankiness

Monitoring your own health – making sure your health checkups are regular and up to date. It is easy to ignore one’s health and end up just as sick as your spouse.


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There are 3 comments

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  1. Sachi

    Some great tips and perspective. Taking care of yourself first will allow you to do a better job of taking care of others.

  2. Nadia

    Great suggestions. I work with the elderly in my full time job and see a lot of caregiver stress. It’s very important for caregivers to be aware of caregiver burnout. Your suggestions are great to preventing burnout. Some counties have caregiver support resources. In my county, orange county, we have a caregiver resource center that can even fund some respite care so the caregiver can get a break.
    I think in the future, we are going to see more and more people taking care of elderly parents and their own kids which will double the stress. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  3. Taby

    Great tips. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourself while taking care of our loved ones. These easy steps will help caregiver to reduce stress and not burnout.

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