December 23, 2011

Best Gift for Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

The holiday season sets many demands on us. We are asked to give gifts, attend holiday gatherings, donate time and money to those less fortunate, and create indelible family memories. The list is infinite. As a caregiver, you are constantly giving and this time of year can create even more stress in your life. How can you begin to care for yourself? This is an excellent question to pose at the New Year to inspire you to understand the importance of caring for the caregiver.

Caregiving is a universal phenomenon. Roslyn Carter recited a fabulous quote that has been used for many years in discussions surrounding caregivers. “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers and those who need caregivers.”

Think about when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant does the routine emergency landing lesson. Reflect about the lesson surrounding the mask and the message that is reinforced. The flight attendant message is that if you are sitting next to a young child, take the mask for yourself first and then help the child. Translation: take care of yourself first in order to care for someone else.

Kick off 2012 with a renewed commitment to take care of yourself. You will be healthier, feel better about yourself and have more energy to devote to your role as a caregiver. Here are some tips to help you jump start your plan:

    • Eat a healthy diet full of good sources of energy.
    • Get enough sleep each and every day.
    • Carve out time to enjoy an activity you enjoy each day.
    • Get regular medical and dental checkups.
    • Watch for signs of depression and seek help if you need it.
    • Accept gifts of help from family and friends.
    • Attend a Caregivers Support Group.

Did you know that Aviv Centers for Living hosts a monthly Caregivers Support Group? Our next meeting will be held on Thursday, January 5 from 6:45 – 7:45 pm at Woodbridge Assisted Living, 240 Lynnfield Street in Peabody. I will be facilitating the group that will unite caregivers to share challenges and success stories. For more information, contact me at 781-598-5310 x. 1561 or e-mail me at