iStock_000009269972_MediumRecently and pushing into the future, more families are and will be taking on caregiving roles. It makes sense—with an estimated 10,000 baby boomers reaching age 65 each day. If you or someone you know becomes a caregiver, it’s important to realize that caregiving responsibilities can tack on some negative effects to your health and wellbeing, especially if you are an older adult. Damaging health effects for those between the ages of 66 and 96 who provide care for a loved one include a 63 percent higher risk of dying than those who are not providing care. There’s also an increased risk of developing a chronic health condition or depression, or an impairment to the immune system.

Whether the role is taken on suddenly or over a period of time, a common thread of decreased self-care becomes apparent. Caregivers often experience feelings of helplessness, believing there’s no one else capable of providing the care their loved one needs, as well as feelings of guilt just in thinking of taking a break when their loved one is struggling.

The following tips can help ease these feelings and allow caregivers to take better care of themselves in order to provide the best care for their loved one:

  1. First and foremost, stay healthy: eat a balanced diet, keep up with immunizations and regular check-ups.
  2. Take time to relax and recharge with a favorite calming activity – reading, gardening, soaking in a bath, knitting, prayer or meditation.
  3. Laughter really can be the best medicine! Share a humorous story with a friend, watch a comedy, or seek out a group offering laughter yoga.
  4. Exercise each day, whether simply taking a walk with a neighbor or participating in an exercise video, or by joining a group exercise class such as Zumba or dancing.
  5. Never be afraid to ask for help, which includes contacting a professional home care agency such as Regency Home Care. Providing care for a loved one can be a 24/7/365 requirement, and it’s very difficult to manage the responsibility alone.

For more ideas on managing the ups and downs of caregiving, check out this article from PBS. And for professional respite care services and a nursing home alternative, contact Regency Home Care of North Atlanta. We serve families throughout North Atlanta, including Buckhead, Brookhaven, Vinings, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Marietta, Atlanta, Cumming and Lawrenceville—so our fully trained, compassionate caregivers can allow family caregivers some much needed time away to rejuvenate. Our caregivers are here for you, caregiver.