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Caregiving Tip: Looking After Yourself
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As a Caregiver, you need to consider your own needs as well as those of the person for whom you are caring. Looking after your physical health and being conscientious about your own diet, exercise and sleep will keep you strong and help you to maintain your emotional resilience. If your health begins to suffer, you will not be able to help your relative or yourself.

DIET

If you are busy and your patient has little appetite, you may be tempted to skip proper meals and exist on snacks. Consider the suggestions below as ways of finding time to enjoy a meal:

  • Regularly invite a friend or relative over for a meal. This will provide a break, as well as some company; it may also inspire you to prepare a meal.
  • When inviting a friend, or even a group of friends, suggest that everyone contribute a dish to the meal.

EXERCISE

Even though you are physically active as a Caregiver, you should try to make time for regular exercise away from home. This will make you feel more energetic, and provide a break from your daily activities. Try to find the most suitable exercise option.

Exercise Classes. A class can provide a regular break in your routine; it may also be refreshing to meet people not involved in caring. Can you set a block of time each week and be sure that you can keep to it? Could you arrange for a friend to sit with your patient for a couple of hours while you attend a yoga class? Could you go to an exercise class while your patient is at a day centre?

Swimming and Walking. Timewise, these activities are much more flexible and demand a lower level of commitment than classes. Although more solitary, it may suit you better just to switch off and swim a few lengths of the pool or go for a walk in the park.

Exercising Together. Is there any way your patient could accompany you to the sports centre? Some local pools run swimming classes for disabled people; this may be a way for you to exercise at the same time.

DO’S & DON’TS

Looking after yourself is vitally important, too.

  • Do get enough sleep.
  • Do plenty of exercise.
  • Do discuss any plans for dieting (with a view of weight loss) with your doctor. As a Caregiver, your energy requirements may differ from someone else of your age and build.
  • Do drink plenty of fluids, especially fruit juices.
  • Do eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Do moderate your alcohol and cigarette consumption.
  • Don’t use alcohol or cigarettes as a crutch in stressful moments.
  • Don’t snack on cakes and biscuits to maintain energy levels.
  • Don’t forgo proper, regular meals. This is easy to do, but is not good for you in the long term.

Source: A Dorling Kindersley Book

 

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