As your parents get older, it’s only natural that you will want to step in and provide love, care, and support. However, for your parents to receive the best care possible, it’s important that you look after yourself too. It can be incredibly easy for your mind to go into overdrive and to run yourself into the ground, so looking after your physical and mental health is essential. Here are a few reasons why self-care is important and the things you can do to keep you sane.
Try to stay active as much as you can. When caring for your parents, you may need to do some of their household chores or make their meals, so having as much energy as you can is important. Regular exercise is one of the main self-care basics. When doing a workout, your body releases endorphins, which trigger positive thoughts and feelings, helping you to stay happy and healthy throughout looking after your aging parents. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to do some exercise can be a welcome distraction, helping to take your mind off things.
It’s important to only eat when you feel hungry. It can be all too easy to fall back on comfort food to keep you going, but you may not realize the negative effects it is having on your body. Instead of relying on comfort snacking, try to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. You should also factor in some time away from your parents to eat, which can help you feel more relaxed and give you a much-needed break.
Getting Enough Sleep
If you are struggling with your sleep, the chances are you’re not performing to the best of your ability. You will only want the best for your parents, but if you haven’t got any energy, your caregiving abilities will decrease. Getting eight hours of sleep each night can make a huge difference and leave you waking up feeling more positive and ready for the day ahead. If you lay awake each night worrying about your parents, this can play havoc with your sleep, so try and relax before bedtime. Whether you have a hot bath or read a book, there are all sorts of ways to help you sleep better. Try and stick to a sleeping schedule too, which can help sort out your body clock, reducing the risk of you waking up frequently throughout the night.
While the last thing on your mind may be enjoying yourself, you need to have some time where you can have fun and be away from your parents. Engaging with others outside your caregiver bubble can give you a release and help take your mind off things. Whether it be having a catchup with friends or joining a local club, no one will judge you if you have some time away to do the things you love. Your parents should understand that you have a life to live too, so taking even an hour out of your day to do your favorite hobby can make a real difference to your physical and mental health, leaving you feeling more positive.
Looking after your aging parents can be incredibly challenging. There will be all sorts of tasks that you will need to complete, which may leave you feeling exhausted. Thankfully, there are many resources available to help you get some support. If you live away from your parents, you may worry and stress about their well-being when you’re not there. Therefore, having your aging parents wear an in-home medical alert system can give you peace of mind and help you feel more relaxed when you’re not with them. This Life Alert comparison can help you find the right system.
Support Their Independence
It’s a good idea to speak to your aging parents and find out which tasks they can complete on their own, and which ones they need assistance with. It’s possible that you may be helping them in areas where they don’t currently need help, and leaving these things could give you more time to yourself. It’s also important for your parents to have some form of control over their own care. Even if their decisions are not particularly things that you would choose to do, supporting them in their choices could help you free up some time to spend with your other loved ones, and doing the things that are important to you. You may also be able to outsource some of the care they need, such as help with meals, to a third party.
Finally, it’s important that you remain realistic in regards to the amount of help you are able to provide. If you agree to take on too much responsibility, you may feel like you are unable to achieve everything you need to, and this can lead to you spiraling out of control both emotionally and mentally. Where possible, reach out to other carers, or speak to professionals about what you can physically do for your loved ones and the areas in which you need help. Identify how many hours you have spare too, and when you may need some third party assistance. Remaining realistic is one of the best things you can do for your own wellbeing.
To ensure you are functioning to the best of your ability, it’s important that you have some time for yourself. While it’s only natural that you will want to spend every waking hour tending to your aging parents, you won’t be able to provide adequate support if you’re not looking after yourself. Whether this involves doing some exercise, getting more sleep or having an hour away to see some friends, keeping yourself sane is important. If things get too much, don’t be afraid to ask for help.