PRINT OUT: Tips for Caregiver Wellness

Caregiver QuoteIt’s easy for people to say, “Take care of yourself,” but Eboni Green, Ph.D., RN, co-founder of Caregiver Support Services in Omaha, has come up with a plan that anyone can use, whether moment by moment, or day by day.

The following super simple mantra helps caregivers achieve peak wellness: everything from cuddle with a pet to promise yourself a guilt-free day.

The components are social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and financial wellness, plus the empowerment and resilience, or flexibility, necessary for you to take charge of your health on a holistic basis.

Print out your copy for the fridge or keep it as a checklist!

Social

  • Cuddle with a pet—yours or a friend’s!
  • Connect with an old friend on Facebook—and catch up!
  • Join an online Scrabble group.
  • Invite a friend to laugh the stress away with a comedy movie.
  • Share your experiences with fellow caregivers—in person or online.
  • Skype or live chat with a licensed social worker.
  • Meet a friend for lunch.
  • Join a Web site where you share caregiving responsibilities, messages.

Psychological

  • Sip a cup of hot chocolate while re-reading your favourite book.
  • Where is your “thinking place”? Spend some extra time there today.
  • Savour the past with old family movies.
  • Make a scrapbook.
  • Revisit a hobby or favorite sport.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Dance to your favorite rock music or simply relax to classical music.
  • Wrap a gift and give it to yourself.
  • Take yourself out to lunch.
  • Soak your feet or take a bubble bath.
  • Pick one room of the house to de-clutter and organize.
  • What “speaks” to you? Go do some of your favorite things!

Physical

  • Catch some Zzzz’s: Sleep an extra half hour.
  • Be health smart: Make a doctor’s appointment for yourself.
  • Do aerobic exercise, preferably with a friend to enhance social engagement (a double win!).
  • Enjoy a 10-minute at-home spa treatment.
  • Comb cookbooks/online sites for healthy recipes.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Eat some “comfort food” in moderation.
  • Take a 30-minute brisk walk.
  • Cook your favorite meal—and take the time to eat it.

Intellectual

  • Absorb as much knowledge as you can—and apply it!
  • Read the 36 Hour Day.
  • Seek out resources to learn all you can about Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Attend a workshop about providing personal care.
  • Listen to support group participants’ tips on successful strategies—and use them.

Spiritual

  • Embrace nature: Watch the snow fall.
  • Do a selfless deed.
  • Feel the power of prayer.
  • Use visualization to return to a good “place.”
  • Sing your heart out in a choir.
  • Give thanks for good days and wonderful memories.
  • Take time to just sit and do nothing.
  • Read an inspirational book or poem—even if only a few pages a day.

Occupational

  • Bright ideas: Check if your company has an employee assistance program.
  • Figure out what you need to juggle work and caregiving.
  • Talk to your employer about implementing caregiver-friendly policies, if not currently available.
  • Talk with co-workers who understand caregiving on breaks or over lunch.

Financial

  • Crack open the piggy bank: Locate grants/programs to assist with caregiving costs.
  • Organize your legal and financial papers.
  • Think about your retirement fund.
  • Consider a long-term care insurance plan for your future needs.

Empowerment

  • Give yourself a thumbs up! Recognize your strengths.
  • Do that thing you’ve been putting off—and enjoy the relief when it’s done!
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Jot down what you want the New Year to look like.
  • Consider sharing your caregiving experiences—speak to a group or participate in an online discussion board.
  • Serve as a role model or mentor for a family caregiver.
  • Advocate for legislation that helps families affected by Alzheimer’s disease, increases research dollars, etc.

Resilience

  • Shake your family tree: Be willing to share the care with others.
  • Leave lists of ways people can help by the phone, so you are prepared to accept help when someone calls.
  • Time management: Work out a realistic daily schedule.
  • Set boundaries: Learn to say no.
  • Focus on what you do best rather than fret about areas where you would like to improve.
  • Promise yourself a guilt-free day: You’re just “one” person.

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