Caring for Your Body
Like many caregivers, you are probably very tired. Perhaps you were so busy and concerned with your loved one that you couldn't pay much attention to your own health. But it's very important that you take care of your health, too.
Added stress and daily demands can cause new health problems for caregivers, on top of any problems that they already have. Some examples are:
- Sleep problems
- Poor ability to fight off illness (weakened immune system)
- Slower healing of wounds
- Higher blood pressure
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Anxiety, depression, or other mood changes
Be sure to make time for your own checkups, screenings, and other medical needs. Talk with your doctor about any symptoms you have. Experienced caregivers also suggest focusing on the basics, and:
- Taking your medicines as prescribed. Ask your doctor to give you extra refills to save trips. Find out if your grocery store or pharmacy delivers.
- Trying to eat healthy meals. Eating well will help keep up your strength.
- Getting enough rest. Listening to soft music or doing breathing exercises may help you fall asleep. Short naps can energize you if you aren't getting enough sleep. Talk with your doctor if lack of sleep becomes an ongoing problem.
- Exercising. Walking, swimming, running, or bike riding are only a few ways to get your body moving. Any kind of exercise (including working in the garden, cleaning, mowing, or going up stairs) can help you keep your body healthy. Finding at least 15-30 minutes a day to exercise may make you feel better and help manage your stress.
- Making time for yourself to relax. You may choose to stretch, read, watch television, or talk on the phone. Whatever helps you unwind, you should take the time to do it. It's important to tend to your needs and reduce your own stress levels.