November marks National Family Caregivers Month. So we take time to recognise and give support to the millions of people who dedicate their time to caring for a family member.
Often a tough and thankless job, family caregivers go above and beyond to help their loved ones to live a comfortable life.
According to Carers UK, 1 in 8 adults (around 6.5 million people) in the UK are carers. 1.4 million of those people will provide over 50 hours of care per week, usually unpaid.
To recognise the amazing work these selfless people do, we’ve put together this article to highlight self-care tips for family caregivers, how you can support them, and the importance of respite care.
Five self-care tips for family caregivers
It can be difficult to think about looking after yourself when someone you care about is seriously ill or dying. But, it’s important to engage in your own life and do the things that make you feel rested and happy. Ideas include:
Exercise can help you sleep better, get rid of tension, and relieve depression. This doesn’t always mean over-exerting yourself; a calm walk around the park or a gentle jog around your neighbourhood can be enough to benefit you physically and emotionally. Another idea might be to go for a walk with a friend that you can speak to because sometimes it helps to lend the ear of another person.
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to your well-being. While it can feel difficult to drift off at night while you worry about your loved one, there are a few tips you can try:
- Avoid caffeine in the evenings.
- Have a warm bath while listening to relaxing music before bed.
- Allow yourself to nap during the day if you’re struggling to sleep through the night.
- If you feel deprived of sleep, speak to your doctor for advice.
When you’re focused on the care of a loved one, it can be easy to skip meals and make yourself a low priority. But it’s important to eat well and stay hydrated. The more you look after yourself, the better positioned you will be to look after your loved one. Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables along with a balanced diet. That said, it’s okay to treat yourself to something lovely from time to time.
Don’t forget about your hobbies
It’s important to stay engaged with your own life, too. Whether you go to a painting class once a week, attend a book club, or love to relax in front of the television, allow yourself some time to do those things. It’s good to switch off from the stresses of life and feel like you’re paying attention to your own mind.
Accept help when it’s offered
Studies have shown that well-meaning people will ask three times if they can help. If you say ‘no’ three times they’ll stop asking, so when you really need their help, they might not be there. Remember that many of your friends and family will want to help – they just don’t know how to. Instead of saying “No, thanks we are fine”, you could say “We’re okay for the moment, but we’re coping day by day, thank you so much for your kindness and please ask me again.” It may be helpful to prepare a list so that when people do get in contact you can give them something to do.
Five ways to support the caregiver in your family
There are plenty of small things people can do to help to support family caregivers, taking the strain off them a little, reducing the chance of caregiver burnout, and making life a little easier. Here are five of them:
Offer your help
This might seem like an obvious one but you might be surprised at how often it’s overlooked. Duties such as cooking, cleaning, doing the washing-up, or doing the laundry are time-consuming, but not necessarily needed to be done by a caregiver. You could offer to carry out some of these duties to take the pressure off.
Make sure they are having proper meals
We all need to eat, and it’s vital that the family caregiver takes the time to. A useful way that you can help the caregiver is to make some healthy meals for them – perhaps ones that can be frozen.
Encourage them to take time for themselves
A family caregiver may experience feelings of guilt when they do something for themselves, this is a normal reaction, but even the most dutiful caregiver must take time out. Looking after a loved one can take its toll, and it’s essential that caregivers can get some respite every now and again. This might be taking a few hours off to go out for a coffee with friends or to run some errands, or it might be a few days off.
Listen to them
A problem shared is a problem halved. Create space for the caregiver to unload their fears, worries, and stresses. It’s important that they talk about how they’re feeling. You don’t need to be armed with advice or give your opinion, the important thing is to listen.
Tell them you appreciate them
Being a family caregiver can feel like a thankless task sometimes. It’s important that your loved one feels appreciated by everyone.
The importance of respite care for family caregives
Respite care is a type of short-term senior care that fills in the gaps when a full-time caregiver isn’t available. It can be for a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks. Depending o your needs, it usually involves either in-home care or a short stay in a care facility.
Respite care allows caregivers to take time out to focus on their own lives. It’s important for their physical and mental wellbeing to have this break.
The benefits include:
- Time for caregivers to relax and socialise
- Peace of mind knowing your loved one is still being cared for
- Caregivers get to rediscover their sense of self
Mumby’s live-in respite care for family caregivers
You can rest assured that your loved one will be well looked after by one of our warm and caring live-in carers in the comfort of their own home offering minimal disruption.
If you feel that live-in respite care may benefit you and your loved one, call us today on 0800 505 3511 for a friendly, no-obligation chat about your needs.