Elder Care: Balancing a Loved One's Needs With Your Own
When you're a caregiver, finding time to take care of your own health can be challenging — but doing so will help both you and your loved one.
By Krisha McCoy, MS
Do you provide assistance for an older person who needs care? People of all ages can be caregivers, but it is very common for older people to become caregivers to their spouses or other loved ones, and – too often – they begin to neglect their own health at an age when they should really be paying more attention to it.
Caregiving is both mentally and physically stressful, and caregivers are considered to be at increased risk for physical health problems and depression. If you are a caregiver in your senior years, it is even more important that you take care of your own health.
The Health Effects of Caregiving
Whether caring for an ailing spouse or another loved one, many caregivers become so concerned with their care-providing role that they neglect their own health, putting themselves at increased risk of:
- Poor physical health: 16 percent of caregivers say that their health declined after they become caregivers.
- Psychological stress: Approximately half of all people who provide Alzheimer's care, a common type of elder care, report experiencing distress. The effects of psychological stress can be widespread and may include depression, burnout, alcohol and drug use, and other problems.
- Self-neglect: Caregivers are more likely than non-caregivers to eat poorly, be sleep deprived, not exercise, not rest when ill, and postpone medical appointments.
- Death: Caregivers are at higher risk of dying than the general population.
Caring for Yourself While Providing Care
When you’re involved in the stress and chaos of providing elder care, or any type of caregiving, it can be difficult to take a step back and focus on yourself. Keep in mind: The loved one you are caring for will be the first to benefit when you make your own health a priority.
For questions about live in home care for your aging loved one, please contact the caregivers at Andelcare. We provide everything from respite care for the primary caregiver to full time in home care in Seattle and the surrounding communities. Call us at 888-788-3051 for more information.