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Listening to your Needs as a Caregiver

By Shon Ingram

In the world of care giving, most caregivers think that the only thing that matters is the person you are caring for. Believe it or not, this is incorrect. As I often tell my clients, you must take care of yourself first. If you are sick or debilitated, you are doing no good to your loved one. When our company assists a family member with geriatric care services or long term care placement, I find myself using the above sentence time and time again. You must listen to your needs and be well nourished, not only in mind and body but also in spirit. Below are some suggestions.

1. Establish an arrival and departure time. Don't try to stay 24 hours a day. As hard as this may be, it's essential that you get rest. Perhaps you so you can't rest worrying about your loved one. Just being away from the situation will give your mind a body a chance to decompress, if just for a few hours.

2. Remember to eat. Either make time to go get you something from the cafeteria or bring something in from home. Do not depend on snack machines and coke to fuel your body for the stress of care giving.

3. Develop a good relationship with the staff at the hospital or nursing home. That way, you can depend on someone to not only look out for your loved one, but also for you.

4. When you can take no more or your health dictates it, hire the services of a professional. A geriatric care manager can be a huge asset to the care of your family member. They not only look after the care of your loved one, but they keep you in constant communication on their health status.

5. Gain understanding. A lot of the stress that we feel as caregivers comes from the constant barrage of information that is coming at us from many different directions. Get all the information you can on your love ones conditions and learn all you can. Often times, all the wondering and worry can affect the mind and body in so many ways.

These are just some simple ways to be well nourished as you care for your loved one. Please, take care of yourself before it comes to that.

Shon Ingram is the owner and lead consultant with Eldercare Life Solutions, a senior care management firm located in Knoxville, TN. He can be reached directly at or 877-309-3360 x700.

Published October 30, 2011

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