The Surprising Reason Why Caretakers Should Be Selfish

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Updated 8/25/15 3:11pm | Everyone at Alert1 would argue that being a caretaker is one of the most selfless jobs in the world. Caretakers are our everyday aging in place champions but with that title comes great responsibility. Whether you’re a live-in, part-time, or full-time caregiver, there’s no such thing as “off-the-clock”. You have a connection with your senior and you worry about them constantly; even when you’re not with them.

Thereare many different caregiving styles though by nature, caretakers are givers. You are kind and compassionate, and you truly care for your senior. But as a giver, you often forget to take. You try to be selfless and not selfish. But there are times where being selfish is okay. Alert1 has worked to take the stress off of caregivers by providing emergency call buttons dating back to 1988.

Why Should Caregivers Be Selfish?

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There are many misconceptions about senior care and the needs of caregivers. First, let’s take the negative connotation off of the word. Selfish does not mean greedy. Being selfish does not mean that you’re a bad person. It just means that you are (temporarily) putting your needs ahead of others.

Allow this to be your friendly reminder that it’s OK to be selfish at times. (Take a deep breath in and out - it’s going to be okay.) Set a goal now or make it your new years resolution to find time for yourself. Know that is going to feel unnatural and wrong. Yet, it will be essential to your wellbeing. Caring for YOU is the best way to take care of others. 

Tips For Senior Caregivers To Stay Healthy

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Here are a few easy ways that you can take care of yourself:

  1. Take a hike. 

    Every day is a good day for an adventure! Whether it’s a walk around your block or a hike to a vista point, it’s a great way to de-stress. Not only do you get the physical benefits of walking, but it’s a great way to clear your mind. Pop your headphones in and enjoy your favorite music or simply enjoy the sounds of nature. Caregivers who get outdoors set a good example for aging loved ones and senior to keep active.
  2. Explore an aquarium. 

    This might seem silly, but there’s a reason why dentists keep aquariums in their offices. Aquariums reduce anxiety and stress levels. You can mindlessly wander, or use it as a learning opportunity.
  3. Eat healthy. 

    Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. After all, haven’t you been bugging your aging loved one to eat healthier? It doesn’t have to be a drastic change, you can start slow! These are important to keep your immune system kickin’. You’ll feel better, stay healthy, and have more energy. (This is also a great excuse to test out new recipes)

  4. Take a day trip. 

    You don’t have to actually be far away to feel as if you’ve traveled far away. Find a beautiful spot nearby and hop in the car! You don’t need a plan, just wing it. The best adventures tend to be the ones that are spontaneous. Give it a try!

  5. Do yoga.

    You don’t have to go to a gym to practice yoga- all you need is a blanket and a quiet room. YouTube has a huge variety of videos you can check out for all skill levels. Check out your local newspaper for free yoga events and bring a friend! 

  6. Join a support group. 

    The job you’re doing is incredibly important and meaningful, and it presents a unique set of challenges. It can be a relief to talk about your job with others. Your friends who work in an office might not understand. Take some time to browse caretaker blogs and check out your newspaper for caretaker events. Share stories, commiserate, learn new tips and tricks, and make new friends with others who share your passion. Caretaker support networks are vital to avoiding burnout

  7. Schedule YOUR check-ups. 

    It’s easy to forget to  schedule doctor’s appointments for yourself! Get your annual physical, schedule a cleaning for your teeth, and go to a check-up for your vision.

I’m sure you’re wondering how you can manage to fit time for these into your schedule. Truthfully, it can be difficult- but completely worth it. Wellness requires conscious effort.

Taking Time Off As A Senior Caregiver

Before you go and request time off, consider how you can make your job easier and more fun:

  1. Check out senior events and clubs at your local recreation department. Recreation centers around the nation provide activities and events for seniors. Maybe you can join!
  2. Get your senior set up with an emergency call button. Senior medical alert systems will give them the ability to reach you at the push of a button. Then you can rest easy knowing that they will never be alone. With Alert1 your senior can reach you or a family member – we don’t just call EMS. And the emergency call button is not just for emergencies either. Your senior can even push their button just to talk with someone. Not only do you get peace of mind, your senior does as well.
  3. Do the above activities WITH your senior. They’ll feel better, and you’ll feel better. It’s an all- around win.

Give yourself a break. You deserve it.

Please feel free to leave a comment with the ways you are “selfish” to give other caregivers more ideas!