Caregiver is someone who gives basic care to people who need some level of assistance or help with everyday tasks on a regular or daily basis. The recipients of the care can live either in residential or institutional facilities, range from children to seniors, and have chronic health issues or disabling conditions. There are different types of caregivers that provide specific care such as family caregivers and respite caregivers. Caregivers can help relieve burdens and support individuals in need. A caregiver helps with preparing and eating food, taking medicine, bathing, and dressing. Most times, a caregiver is a family member. However, there are positive and negative aspects to caregiving.
SOME POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CAREGIVING
For some caregivers, providing care for a family member with a chronic health issue or a disabling condition can bring about the following:
-A sense of gratification
-Feeling needed and useful
-Discovering more about yourself, others, and the meaning of life
-Making social connections or strengthened relationships associated with caregiving
SOME CHALLENGES OF CAREGIVING
Despite the fact that some aspects of caregiving may be rewarding, being a caregiver can put you at risk for health challenges. Some of the health challenges that are likely to arise from caregiving are stress, depression, difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle and so on.
As a caregiver, you tend to neglect your own health, hence the risk for health problems. Some tasks they engage in can also be difficult. This includes lifting or bathing a loved one. Due to financial difficulties, some caregivers may avoid going to the doctor so they don’t have to pay for visits or treatments. Or they may have to cut back or leave your job. These can affect their mental, emotional and physical health.
Reports have shown that caregivers have an increased risk for the following health problems:
-Alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse
-Pain (muscles, joints, headaches)
-Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
SELF-CARE FOR CAREGIVERS
Being a caregiver can take a physical and emotional toll on you. As you care for others, you should make your own well-being a priority. You can cater for your loved ones effectively only when you take care of yourself first. Here are some tips to improve your quality of life as a caregiver :
No matter how tight your schedule is, you should make sure you eat healthily and on time. Don’t always settle for fast food and packaged food. If you are cooking healthy meals for your loved one, you might be able to share. If you don’t have time to cook for yourself, keep healthy snacks such as nuts, peanut butter, whole grains, fresh fruits, and snackable vegetables around.
GET SOME SLEEP AND MANAGE STRESS
If your schedule does not allow you to get enough sleep, take some naps when you can. This might be something you can do when your loved one is napping. You should also get enough rest. This will give you energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood. You should also ensure that you manage stress to avoid physical illness.
AVOID SUBSTANCE ABUSE
You should avoid abusing alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. These substances may seem to offer relief but it is short-lived. They are harmful to your health if you use them regularly and to excess. If you have trouble eliminating these things from your life, you should talk to your doctor.
If you notice you are having emotional or psychological problems, talk to your doctor, meet a counsellor, a clergy person, or a trained personnel to help you out.
TAKE A BREAK
Know your limits. Do not hesitate to ask for help from others. This includes family members, friends, temporary care workers, or church members. You can take a break from caregiving if need be. Consider other resources, such as in-home health care, adult day service, respite care, meal delivery, transportation services, and hospice care.
GET REGULAR CHECKUPS
Don’t wait till you feel sick before you go for a checkup. It is important to see your doctor regularly. You should go through health tests and screenings and vaccinations. Ensure to take health advice appropriate for your age, sex, and medical and family history. This helps prevent disease and catch any medical conditions you do have early.
Caring for others can be a rewarding experience but can be challenging and time-consuming. It requires unceasing vigor and patience. A caregiver, if not careful, will take care of others and neglect his or her own mental, physical and emotional needs. Every caregiver should note that caring for a loved one can only be if one is in the right state of mind and in good health. They should learn to ask for help when needed. Without help, they are more likely to become exhausted and severely stressed. That can lead to serious health problems and limit their ability to care for others. Caregivers are therefore advised to give their own health and well-being a sense of priority.