The role of caregiver can have many different facets: you can be a mother who is a carer to a child (or several); you can be a nurse or doctor with many patients under your care, or you can act as someone’s medical caregiver when they are unable to care for themselves due to illness, disability or age.
But how often do caregivers stop to think about taking care of themselves? To many, it sounds too selfish to even consider. Here’s why you should always ensure that you take care of yourself as a caregiver, too.
The Type Of Person Who Cares
Being a carer takes a very specific type of person, whether we’re talking about a professional in the medical field or a parent taking care of their children. Just the very urge to care for another human being can say that you have a strong, natural protective instinct – and that, above all, you want to do some good to help those around you.
Often this means that carers will prioritize care of others above their own care. That’s just how they are hard-wired to be.
You should always keep in mind that it’s just as important for you to take care of yourself at the same time as caring for someone else. The person you are caring for, be it an elderly person with special needs or an elderly family member, places a considerable amount of trust in your ability to care for them.
If your health were to be affected, you wouldn’t be able to care for them as well. Do you see how important your own health really is, even if you’ve never thought of it before? That’s a good reason to start taking care of yourself.
Rethinking Your Priorities
It can be very hard for carers to put themselves first, and it almost goes against everything that they stand for. It feels selfish thinking of yourself first. But it’s not. Sometimes you need to step back and think of yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about the people you care for, it just means that you realise and understand that you need to care for yourself so that you can take care of others to the best of your ability.
The Mental Effect
It’s extremely taxing to be a carer, and it’s easy to feel hopeless, depressed, tired or discouraged at times. This can affect your ability to function, and can easily spill into your personal life. It’s worth considering professional counselling if you find that you are going through a hard time yourself and need someone to talk to. It’s okay to admit when you are not.
The Physical Effect
The physical effect that being a carer can have isn’t often talked about, but it can be just as taxing as the mental effect in the long run. If you are caring for someone who is physically disabled or frail, then you will need to help them move, carry and lift when they need to. This means that you need to stay in good shape, but it also means that you should never take on more than your capacity and hurt yourself in the process.
It can be taxing in some other ways too, for example on your heart, or on your sleep schedule when you realise that being a carer doesn’t always follow a nine-to-five schedule.
When it comes to thinking about who will help you when you need it, a medical alert device can help you know that your loved ones and an emergency response team will be able to find you if you are ever in need. If you are looking for a medical alert device, it is easier to find it online nowadays and it could be the help you need to enable you the time to look after yourself more.