For Family Caregivers: Tips for Self Care

| By Casa de la Luz


Taking care of a seriously ill or dying loved one is the hardest thing most people will ever do. Caregivers deal with the most intimate of feelings and body fluids daily, and it is physically, emotionally, and spiritually messy. To continue being your best caregiving self is to find ways, big and small, to maintain your health and sanity.

I have great faith in people. Caregivers, as individuals, know what they need, but who has the time during the daily routine of feeding, bathing, and keeping a loved one clean and comfortable. The best one can do is be mindful of self care and practice it when time allows. Remember, self care can be anything from a few minutes of morning meditation to an afternoon of lunch and a movie.

Mindful. Mindfulness. Calm awareness. Following is a way to practice mindfulness of self care during your daily chaos.

Each day, read one tip from the list below and think about it throughout the day. Bring to mind the way in which you already practice it. Imagine new ways that you would like to incorporate it into your life. At the end of the day, bless yourself for all you have done for yourself and your loved one.

1. I cannot do it alone. I won’t even try.
2. My sense of humor keeps me in balance.
3. It is good to vent. (Write, cry, complain, break things, scream in the car.)
4. Safety first, mine and my loved one’s.
5. Patience, with myself and others.
6. Respect for myself and others.
7. I ask for help.
8. Music soothes my soul.
9. I trust my body. When it hurts, I take care of it. If it still hurts, I see a doctor.
10. I know when to be a loved one.
11. I know when to be a caregiver.
12. When the hospice volunteer comes, it is okay to take a long shower and a nap.
13. Nursing aides have magical skills. I will ask the aide to teach me some tricks of the trade.
14. I can ask for help.
15. Sleep is my friend. Naps are good. It is okay to lie down and rest when my loved one is resting.
16. Laughter is good for my soul and my belly muscles.
17. Make a list of tasks others can do. When someone offers to help, accept and give them a specific task off the list.
18. Ask a friend to come over for lunch, and if he/she offers, I will let him/her bring the lunch.
19. I give thanks for my ability to love.

By Mary Toren, RN

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