Looking after an elderly person, especially one who may have health and/or mobility problems can be tiring and difficult at times. If that person also has dementia the task can be doubly hard. Those carers also need to take extra care of their own health in order to do their job properly and to the high standard expected.
Look After Your Health and Wellbeing
Anyone who is stressed and over-tired, no matter how physically fit you may be, will eventually start to feel run down and ill. You must take steps to avoid this by observing a few common sense rules:
- Get enough sleep. Sleep allows you to rest and recharge leaving you ready to tackle the day. Avoid coffee and alcohol late at night as these interfere with sleep patterns. A warm bath and a milky drink before bedtime can help you to relax into sleep. Rest during the day where you can if you can’t sleep at night.
- Regular exercise helps your muscle strength, blood pressure and heart rate. Stretching exercises and a daily walk are often all that’s needed but for something a little more lively try dancing to music for 30 minutes – this could benefit your patient too providing they have GP approval of course.
- Watch your diet. Try to get your 5-a-day fruit and veg but treat yourself to a favourite food now and then.
- Maintain contact with friends, family and favourite pastimes and social activities for the sake of your mental wellbeing.
Get the Right Support
No matter how good and how dedicated you are to looking after your elderly patient you can’t do everything to a high standard without a good support network in place. Too many good carers struggle on by themselves until they start to become ill and this is no help to the person you look after.
When a live-in carer is part of a professional team you know you can always call on agency and health professionals when you need advice. If the elderly person’s family members or friends are in regular close contact don’t be afraid to ask them for help when it’s needed. They could help you by sometimes preparing meals, helping with household chores or accompanying the elderly person on a day out so that you can get things done at a more leisurely pace. If it is feasible or possible, consider having someone to stay overnight so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
You can also consider respite care services where these are available because it is important that you take regular breaks to rest and recharge now and again.
Take Care of Your Emotional Health
Caring for elderly people with life-limiting health conditions can take its toll. Remember that it’s normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed. If you find yourself becoming upset whilst trying to stay resilient, consider speaking to a professional counsellor for advice on how to manage your emotions.