That’s right it’s official. Attention Caregivers: You get your own month!! Isn’t that exciting? The President has issued a proclamation declaring November as National Family Caregiver’s Month. It can be considered no coincidence that this month has been dedicated to caregivers since it is the month that we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Many are thankful for the caregivers that they have in their lives. Thanksgiving Day is generally dedicated to giving thanks and expressing gratitude for a multitude of blessings received throughout the year. Everyday caregivers selflessly provide support to family members and friends in need. They dedicate themselves to help their loved ones have a good quality of life, maintain their health, and remain in a safe environment allowing them to live with dignity. This gift of selfless service is a godsend for many. To all caregivers I salute you for all that you do and I congratulate you for accepting the call to advocacy!! Being an elder advocate can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. However, I want to remind you to be grateful and appreciate all that you do but you must remember to take care of yourself. The Caregiver Action Network’s theme for National Family Caregiver’s Month is RESPITE. Respite can be defined as taking a short period of relief. This is something that many do not take time to do. Here are some tips that can help you enjoy a period of respite.
Revitalization: Take some time for yourself. Go to a movie or take a weekend trip. Secure help so you can take the time to spend away from your duties.
Energize: Find ways to reduce stress. Figure out your triggers and identify things that make you smile. Grab a pen and make a list. Do you like music? Reading? Walking? Jot down things that bring you joy. Do them when you feel stress levels escalating.
Sleep: It’s important to not make sacrifices in this area! I know it’s tough when you are worrying about your loved one’s situation but if you don’t get proper rest, you won’t be able to do what you need to do.
Programs: You can find respite or refuge inside or outside of the home. Take some time to visit your local house of worship. Fellowship with fellow members. Find support groups with people who are having similar experiences. Local hospitals and churches can be a source to find them. Even doing a search online can provide a source of support if you are able to leave your home.
Imagination: Do things that stimulate your mind. You may not be interacting much with others or have the time. Escape the daily grind by reading a book or watching a thought provoking movie. Call a friend and don’t talk about anything related to caregiving.
Take 5: Take some time for yourself. Are you beginning to see a recurring theme? Having some moments for yourself should not cause you to feel guilty. Just know they will be ok while you take a minute for yourself.
Exhale: Take a deep breath..Inhale and exhale Ahhh.. There’s nothing like taking a few deep breaths to relieve tension and reduce stress. Actually deep breathing can bring focus and clarity in addition to shifting your mood. Next time try a deep breathing exercise: Inhale through the nose for 3 counts and exhale through the mouth for 6 counts. Do 3 sets of these breathing cycles and you will feel a difference.
So remember to exhale, take 5 and do positive things to re-energize!
Please share some ways that you will have a respite moment during this month.