Not Just For Seniors: Honoring Informal Caregivers

By Rhonda Kay Leonarduhs-logo

We know that families and friends provide the vast majority of all caregiving. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, the average informal caregiver provides 20-25 hours of assistance per week. Many middle-aged sons and daughters give more time than that, forgoing work and spending evenings and weekends with aging parents. Caring for others long term takes some special skills we’d like to share with you.

First, know the signs of burnout.  WebMD describes the following signs:

  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications

If you recognize any of these signs, please, talk about them with someone you trust; and, call in reinforcements. It’s not selfish to focus on your own needs. Here are a few tips from the Family Caregiving Alliance:

  • Learn and use stress-reduction techniques, e.g. meditation, prayer, Tai Chi.
  • Attend to your own healthcare needs.
  • Get proper rest and nutrition.
  • Exercise regularly, if only for 10 minutes at a time.
  • Take time off without feeling guilty.
  • Participate in pleasant, nurturing activities, such as reading a good book, taking a warm bath.
  • Seek and accept the support of others.
  • Seek supportive counseling when you need it, or talk to a trusted counselor, friend, or pastor.
  • Identify and acknowledge your feelings, you have a right to ALL of them.
  • Change the negative ways you view situations.
  • Set goals.

Please take care of yourself; we need you to be around for the long haul!

This story is sponsored by United Homecare Services. If you are interested in finding out more or scheduling a no-obligation consultation, call 503-433-8079.