Taking care of a loved one who is sick, whether it is a temporary illness or a chronic illness, is a lot of work. It is often so much work that people forget to take care of themselves while they are taking care of their loved one. Here are a few tips for keeping yourself safe, healthy, and at your best:
1. Get rest. Make sure that you get enough rest at night. This will help your body stay healthy as well as protect your mind from “burnout”. Do not feel guilty about needing rest. If your loved one needs care around the clock, consider taking turns with someone you trust or hire a home healthcare company to come in overnight to help out while you get the rest you need.
2. Change up the routine. It is difficult to be “on staff” all day, everyday even for the most kindly patients. To avoid the feeling of burnout from a monotonous routine, change things up every once in a while. This can include getting someone else to stay with your loved one, but it can also be as simple as taking your loved one on a walk around the neighborhood or just sitting outside in the yard with them. Maybe rent a movie and pop some popcorn to enjoy with them or watch old home movies. Just changing things up once in a while can help your time with them be more pleasant and new memories can be formed.
3. Adhere to all safety precautions. Make sure that if the person you are caring for has a communicable disease, you are doing everything you can to stay healthy. Make sure to wash your hands frequently, sanitize surfaces, wear a mask and gloves, and dispose of sharps (needles and lancets) appropriately by contacting local clinics or hospitals to see if they can provide you with instructions on how to handle and dispose of sharps. If you are nervous about handling any of these items, think about contracting a home health agency who can come in and handle all the tasks that you are not sure about performing safely on your own.**
4. Make sure you are eating well-balanced, vitamin rich meals. It is important to get proper nutrition while caring for someone who is sick. Eating well ensures that your body will have all the protection and strength possible to fight off anything that is contagious. It will also help you have enough energy to perform every task to the best of your ability.
**Contracting a home health company can be a temporary thing. You can ask them to come in on a short-term basis and watch how they do things properly so that you learn how the tasks should be performed. This is a good way to essentially train yourself so that you can be confident that you are giving your loved one adequate care.