Putting care for the caregiver at the top of the list of priorities is a much studied topic. When a caregiver stays healthy, the family member is more likely to be well cared for – simple logic, but not as easy as it seems.
Caregivers deal with stress, which can cause a myriad of health problems.
Caregivers had a 23 percent higher level of stress hormones and a 15 percent lower level of antibody responses than non-caregivers. Over time, elevated stress hormones can lead to high blood pressure and glucose levels, increasing the risk of hypertension and diabetes. Poorer immune response can make people more vulnerable to infections such as the flu, even after a flu shot. – Source – American Psychological Association
Being a caregiver means long hours. When you have a family and/or job of your own, there is less time to care for the caregiver. I fit this sandwich generation category. I am married, have a teen daughter with her own health issues and an adult daughter who is pregnant. And I have chronic illnesses.
With chronic illness, I am more likely to be sick and stay sick for a long time. I must take my healthcare seriously. The main way to do this is with preventative care. Keeping doctor appointments, getting health screenings on time and taking my medications is my way to stay as healthy as possible.
Eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, and pampering myself all help on my road to staying healthy. On my calendar, I set aside time for my health care needs and my “me time”. Staying educated on caregiver tips is essential. Care for the caregiver is the difference between my ability to be there fully mentally and physically for my mother or to not be there at all.
How do you stay healthy as a caregiver?
I am part of AARP’s kitchen cabinet on caregiving. This is a series of posts on the topic of caregiving. This post and my social media involvement is compensated, but all opinions are my own.