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Caregiver Self-Care Essentials

The path to recovery after an injury impacts more than the patient; it directly affects the entire family. During the month of February, we’ll be discussing a series of topics related to injury recovery, and how to best manage the process as a team. From supporting plans of care and maintaining personal health, to date night ideas to help you both relax and have fun along the way, we’ll share insights from community experts and our very own physical therapists so that the path to recovery can be as smooth as possible.

When someone you love is recovering from an injury or illness, you naturally take on the caregiver role. From running extra errands and scheduling appointments to managing the responsibilities at home and helping your loved one with daily tasks, caregivers are essential to helping someone along the path to recovery. However, all of these extra responsibilities can often cause significant stress on the caregiver. So, if you’ve recently assumed the title of caregiver for someone you love, remember to take time for self-care as well to ensure that you maintain physical and emotional health.

Here are five key strategies to promote self-care as a caregiver:

1. Pause
As our schedules fill up, we often go into autopilot, rushing through each day to tackle everything on that to-do list. Left unmonitored, this lifestyle can dramatically impact your own health. Take time to pause, slow down, and – where you can – delegate or eliminate tasks so that you can focus on the health of your loved one and yourself. Common ways to lighten your to-do list include:

  • House cleaning – Hire a cleaning service, or ask a family member for occasional help
  • Groceries – Utilize grocery delivery services like Hy-Vee Aisles Online
  • Meals – Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time so that you have fast and easy options throughout the week
  • Caregiving – Ask a family member or friend for help with your loved one occasionally so that you can give yourself a break

2. Be Realistic About Responsibilities
Similarly, when you consider all of the responsibilities that you’re juggling while caring for a loved one, be realistic about what you can do yourself and what you may need help with. Reach out to your physical therapist or doctor when you have questions about the plan of care, and ask about possible services or options to help lift some of the responsibilities that you need to manage.

3. Surround Yourself with Support
Whether you block off an occasional evening for a night out with friends or join one of the many caregiver support groups in the area, surround yourself with people who are able to support you and your loved one throughout the path to recovery.

Area support groups include:

4. Commit to Your Personal Health
Create your own health goals, and work together with your loved one on the exercises and nutrition that you need to accomplish each of your goals. Try fun new recipes, go on a hike, try a new class at the YMCA, attend a yoga class with a friend. Commit to your personal health, and team up with friends and family to stay committed to your goals.

5. Relax
Finally, allow yourself time to unwind and relax. Block off time in your busy schedule to read a book, get a massage, take a bath, or even just catch up on much needed sleep. Focusing on your own mental and physical health should be just as much of a priority as assisting your loved one through their plan of care to ensure that both of you can maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Have you just recently assumed the role of caregiver for a loved one? Learn more about how to support someone through injury recover by reading this blog post.