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Balancing Work, Caregiving, and Personal Life
Caring for a senior loved one is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but without the proper help and support, a caregiver can sometimes feel stressed and fatigued. Balancing caregiving, work, and personal life is not an easy feat, and burnout is a genuine threat for people tending to others’ needs day in and day out. So here are three tips from National Recruiters to help you maintain a healthy balance while caring for a senior loved one.
Many caregivers experience feelings of guilt when they want to take time for themselves. Sometimes, they do not take any meaningful breaks to recharge, which often leads to burnout and can even bring about more severe health issues. High blood pressure and cholesterol have been linked to elevated stress levels, so it’s vital to care for yourself and tend to your own needs.
Make time for a favorite hobby, or just enjoy a quiet moment to yourself, curled up with a good book, or binge-watching your favorite TV show. Make exercise part of your daily routine: it is good for your body, but it’s also proven to be excellent for your mind. Regular physical activity helps reduce depression, anxiety, and negative thoughts while boosting your happiness and self-esteem. And once in a while, plan a little getaway for yourself; research from Harvard University showed that a change of scenery would do wonders for your overall well-being. You’ll go back to your caregiving duties refreshed and rejuvenated.
Lean on Your Support Network
Philips Lifeline points out that many caregivers feel isolated as they hesitate to reach out for help and support, but many in their circle of friends and relatives would be more than happy to help, given a chance. When you ask for assistance, be specific about the kind of help you need and when you need things to be done because being too vague about what needs to be accomplished makes it harder for another person to commit.
Your friends and relatives may also feel like they’re not adequately equipped to handle the kind of care an elderly patient requires, so let them know that they can still help in meaningful ways by taking on tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, meal prepping, bookkeeping, filing health insurance claim forms, or several other time-consuming duties that caregivers are often responsible for on top of medically assisting their senior. And if you don’t have many people around you to lend a hand, reach out to local or national groups and organizations geared toward caregivers that can provide you with valuable resources in your area.
Take a Different Career Path
Working full-time and caring for a senior loved one can be very taxing, especially when their cognitive functions are impaired and they need round-the-clock assistance. And even when you’re working from home, you still have to rely on other people to watch your aging loved one, so you have time to rest.
Respite care can help you bridge the gap when you need help for a few hours a day. And if your current employer isn’t allowing you the flexibility to be there for your loved one, you may consider changing jobs and pursuing a different career. A healthcare degree like a Master of Health Administration lets you study at your own pace, so you can still take care of your aging parent and earn credentials that will lead to a healthcare leadership and management position. Or you can get a nursing degree and use your experience as a caregiver to launch a successful career working with patients.
Senior caregivers are compassionate people who thrive on taking care of others. But they also need to take time for themselves and tend to their own physical and mental well-being to be at their best. Achieving that balance could very well prevent burnout.
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