Remember, if you don’t look after yourself you can’t look after anyone else. Do you provide care for a family member? Make sure you look after yourself as well.
It may sound obvious or something you hear regularly, but let us remind you, in order for you to be able to look after a family member it is important that you take care of yourself. The main reason we emphasise this is that if you burnout you may not be able to care for the person that you love as well as you would like.
However, in our experience there are some practical steps that you can take to make sure you remain fit, well and happy enough to look after your loved one.
Tips to staying fit, well and happy to look after loved ones
- Family Meeting – It is important to ensure that you and your family members agree on the support that each person will provide. This way everyone will be clear on expectations and this will save on any communication issues, we would suggest meeting every few months. If it is possible then include the person being cared for in the conversation, they will appreciate knowing the plans and have the chance to raise any concerns, show their gratitude and keep the process person centred.
- Support System – In any challenging situation having a solid support system can be a great help. In maybe a cliché but a problem shared can quite often be a problem halved. Family and friends can be a excellent support network and discussing the situation with people can help. It may even encourage you to uncover solutions to help that you didn’t even know existed. Once you start opening up it is amazing how many people have knowledge and information to share, for example local support groups or people going through a similar situation.
- Healthy Living – Looking after your own body and mind is essential. Eat, drink and sleep well. Don’t forget to exercise. Your own wellness really is key and you need to ensure this is a priority, perhaps you can organise someone to sit with your loved one whilst you go for a walk or do some other exercise. We have links with local community groups that we can put you in touch with should you need inspiration!
- Make time for yourself – Making sure that you have planned breaks can give you both a mental and emotional release. It can be as simple as having a short break during the day or organising a monthly trip to the cinema. Do the things that you love… Take the time to think about what that special thing is for you – Is it having a bath? Reading a book? Or even walking the dog? Whatever it is make time to do it. Trust us you will feel refreshed and renewed afterwards and this will truly benefit your loved one. Respite care can be useful in these situations and outside home care providers can offer valuable support in these circumstances.
Available Resources – There are lots of valuable resources for carers available, the local authority website can be a great source of information.
Finally, keep this quote in mind
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent. Caring for myself in an act of survival” – Audre Lorde.