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Caring for the Caregiver

In February, people all over the country are celebrating Valentine’s Day by swapping Valentine’s cards, passing out conversation heart candies, and surprising loved ones with special Valentine’s dinners. This is also a great month to celebrate the caregivers in your life. Caregivers often give more than expected, leading to stress and burnout. Acumen Fiscal Agent would like to share the signs of caregiver stress, how caregivers can care for themselves, and how you can offer them valuable support. 

Caring for the Caregiver

Caregiver Stress

Responsibility for another human is a great commitment, but it’s not without its stressors. If you’ve raised children, you know how rewarding yet challenging it can be. The same goes for caregivers of aging adults, individuals with physical disabilities, and adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways. If you notice any of the signs below, you or a loved one may be experiencing caregiver stress:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Irritable and/or angry more than usual
  • Little to no pleasure in hobbies or activities
  • Weight gain or loss for no apparent reason
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Persistent health problems

Respite Care

Respite care allows caretakers to take a break from full-time caregiving. Trained and compassionate adults stay with and care for loved ones for a specific amount of time, anywhere from a few hours to a few days. There are different types of respite care available:

  • In-home care by professional aides or nurses
  • Day centers or programs specifically for individuals with I/DD
  • Short-term assisted living facilities

Self Care

One tool available to any caregiver is self care. This term is often used to describe personal care associated with “spoiling” oneself, such as getting massages or hanging out with friends. These activities are good examples of self care, but much more is involved. Self care is designed to restore or energize you when you’ve been giving much more of yourself than usual. The adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” describes what can happen when caregivers don’t meet their basic needs. Before you begin to feel like an empty cup, try some of these self care tips:

  • Connect with other caregivers by joining a support group or spending time with others in similar situations.
  • Take care of your body by choosing healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, or exercising throughout the week.
  • Lower expectations for yourself by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
  • Say no to requests that may make your life difficult rather than easier, like hosting holiday gatherings or volunteering for a large project. 
  • Accept help from friends and family by letting them run errands for you, helping with yard work, or folding laundry over a cup of coffee.

Personal Service to Meet Your Needs

Acumen provides fiscal management services to self-directing individuals throughout the U.S. including aging adults, veterans, and individuals with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Contact us at (877) 211-3738 to learn more.

Source: “Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself.” Web article. Mayo Clinic. Web. 07 Feb. 2024.