“Informal” caregivers, also known as family caregivers, are those who provide care to an aging parent, spouse, or another relative. These responsibilities can include transportation, housework, or preparing meals, but can also include assistance with getting dressed, bathing, etc.
While being an informal caregiver can be a rewarding role, it can also be taxing on your health. Caregiver burnout can develop as you continuously put the needs of your loved one ahead of your own. WebMD defines caregiver burnout as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may occur as you care for your loved one. Family caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, anxiety, a weakened immune system, and more.
Silver Comet Village respects those undertaking the responsibilities of informal caregiving. We know firsthand that it can be a challenging task with many bumps and obstacles to get through. We want to provide you with a few caregiver tips that will help you improve your health and promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
Calorie Counting and Healthy Intake
While many associate calorie counting with weight loss, it is also a great way to ensure you are getting enough calories each day. It is common for family caregivers to skip meals or lightly snack throughout the day as they stay busy with their caregiving responsibilities. However, this behavior can result in your body not getting the proper nourishment it needs to perform its best. Resources like this calorie counter calculator will ask you a few questions, such as your sex, weight, age, and weekly activity. Once you provide your information, it will give you the number of calories you should be consuming each day as part of a healthy diet.
It’s also important to remember that what you put in your body matters. If you’re maintaining your calorie count by eating fast or fried foods, it is counterproductive! If you find yourself hungry throughout the day, Healthline has a fantastic list of healthy snacks that can help you stay full and keep your diet on track.
Planning and Prepping Meals
While the most common reason for skipping meals as a caregiver is due to a lack of time, meal planning and prepping can solve this issue and help alleviate some stress. You may be wondering how to get into meal prepping, and the solution is simple; find the meal of the day that you most often skip and begin preparations. For instance, if you struggle to make breakfast for yourself in the morning, try preparing yourself breakfast the day or night prior.
Exercise and Social Activities
While maintaining a healthy diet can improve caregiver health, exercise and social activities are also important to improving your overall well-being. Research has shown that caregivers can reduce feelings of stress and feel better about themselves through physical activity.
Another important part of health that many often forget is socialization. Finding ways to socialize, especially with other caregivers, allows you to talk through feelings and relieve feelings of anxiety knowing others are going through similar situations. If you look for your nearest community center, you may be able to find support groups or educational classes that can assist you and your caregiving lifestyle.
At the end of the day, caregiver health is just as important as the person you find yourself caring for. Caregiver burnout can come with many adverse health effects, and taking care of yourself is the best way to avoid these consequences.
Silver Comet Village’s mission is to honor the past, celebrate the present, and embrace the future. We do this by providing seniors with retirement living that reflects their lifestyle choices, and we proudly offer independent living, assisted living, and memory support and care. If you find yourself experiencing caregiver burnout or if you think your loved one would benefit from a senior living community, we encourage you to contact one of our experts and schedule a tour of our community in Powder Springs, Georgia!