Taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your loved one. There are many statistics showing how often a caregivers health, both mentally and physically, is compromised while caring for an ailing family member.
An aging parent is a moving target – what works now will certainly change in a few months. Canes give way to walkers and walkers give way to wheelchairs, just as children move through stages, so does your aging parent – but in reverse and there is no road map. This journey is unique to each person and can be extremely stressful for the ones that care for them.
Here are a few ways to care for yourself:
1. Join the Senior Spot in Avon! The Senior Spot is a safe place for your loved one to engage socially with others who are struggling with age related cognitive issues. They meet twice a week at the Presbyterian church in Avon. The best part is they are there for three hours! That is three hours to yourself!
2. Family support – if you are lucky enough to have family in the area then use them! If not, we are lucky enough to live in an area that people enjoy visiting. Plan trips for family members to give you a break for a few days now and then. Supporting each other is of paramount importance, as difficult as this can be it will make for lasting memories for your family. Also let your neighbors know what you are doing, they can help keep an eye on wanderers and a friendly hello makes such a difference to a parent that has been relocated.
3. Use caregivers as much as possible! As well as giving you a break, they are another set of eyes and ears on your loved one and can often cue you into things you might overlook. As your loved one declines you will have a variety people coming in and out of your home – managing this is both a blessing and a challenge. Keep a calendar centrally located and use it – appointments and visitations although wonderful, can quickly become overwhelming if not tracked and managed.
4. Be kind to yourself – everyone gets stressed, don’t expect to be perfect all the time – count to 10, go for a quick walk, listen to music or books on headphones, keep a diary, or call a friend. Pamper yourself as much as possible. As expensive as living here can be there are also some free or low cost things too. The area libraries have many free activities and the Vail Daily has an ongoing list of events for seniors, many of which are free or low cost.
5. Food: Cooking for your aging parent can be a challenge, and going out to eat both hard to manage and expensive, but there are a few treasures in the area – The senior center in Eagle offers lunches for $2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they are excellent! The Eagle Methodist Church offers FREE community “Simple Suppers” on Monday nights – these are held at the Methodist church but are hosted by a different group each week (i.e. area churches, Rotary & Lions clubs, Girl scouts, etc.).
6. Exercise: Last but not least exercise is so important for caregivers, it helps relieve stress, and keeps you strong so you can support your loved one both physically and emotionally. It also can be an enjoyable social outlet. The Gypsum gym has several exercise classes that are free for seniors of varying ages! Our valley also has many Yoga studios.