Self-care for Caregivers: 14 Ways to Add Joy to Life Now
It’s May, and this month we look forward to Mother’s Day (and “A Day In May With Mae”!). But did you know that May is also known as “Older Americans Month,” according to the Administration for Community Living? What’s more, millions of Americans – most of them women – are also serving as family caregivers for an older parent or relative. Below, Trenora Parker, West Angeles’ Women’s Choir Director, shares 14 insights of care for caregivers and on maintaining a healthy life balance.
“Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” – Ephesians 6:2-3 ESV
We love our parents and we love our loved ones. It is important to remember, however, that when seniors (or those of any age group) need care, they aren’t the only ones affected.
Caregivers play a vital role by providing support for family, friends, and loved ones. It is a labor of love that comes without a paycheck*. In becoming a caregiver, many of us may put our own health and long-term financial security at risk. We assume an enormous responsibility for the ones we love. It is because of our love for them that we desire that they receive the very best care we can give them.
THE ROLE OF A CAREGIVER
A caregiver’s primary responsibilities at home may include: assistance with bathing, dressing and grooming; assistance with walking and physical exercises; planning and preparing meals, monitoring food expiration dates, providing medication reminders; doing light housekeeping, laundry and ironing; changing linens and making beds, and running errands such as picking up prescriptions and dry cleaning.
Additional responsibilities include: escorting your loved one to appointments (such as the hair salon or barber, doctors, physical therapy, etc.), and to worship services or events; maintaining their calendar and organizing their mail, managing all business and financial affairs, purchasing clothing, engaging in activities and mental exercises such as games and memory books, and providing companionship.
Again, we love our senior family members and friends. We don’t mind caring for them; in fact, we wouldn’t have it any other way! Caregiving can be rewarding, but: the truth is that it can also be emotionally overwhelming and physically stressful.
14 THINGS EVERY CAREGIVER NEEDS TO KNOW
Here are some things you can do to cope with being a caregiver:
- Take care of YOU (pray, meditate, exercise, etc.)
- Listen to music that lightens your mood
- Read a book
- Reward yourself
- Talk to someone you’re comfortable sharing with
- Accept help from family and/or friends
- Focus on what you are able to provide
- Set realistic goals
- Keep a sense of humor
- Keep up personal activities that are important to you
- Do fun things
- Join a support group
- Seek social and community support
- Seek wise counsel from a minister, or a Christian counselor or therapist
Caring for ourselves is one of the most important — and one of the most-often forgotten — things we can do as a caregiver. When our needs are taken care of, the person we care for will benefit too.
Trenora Parker, a humble woman of God, recently became a full-time caregiver to her mother, Dr. Lois Parker. The anointed choral director, songwriter, vocal trainer, and gifted minister of music is founder and director of the powerful LA Cathedral Choir (LACC), which released three CD projects under her leadership. Trenora received her musical education at Berklee School of Music, USC Community School of Performing Arts, and the Seth Riggs vocal training program. She also received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has ministered in correctional facilities and in homeless shelters and has a heart for ministering to young people. She currently serves as the director of the West Angeles Women’s Choir.
Main Image: Trenora Parker and her mom, Dr. Lois Parker.
*DID YOU KNOW?
- MILLIONS OF AMERICANS SERVE AS FAMILY CAREGIVERS, according to a 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving. About 17% of US adults – or 39.8 million people – were caring for an adult loved one. The typical family caregiver in the study is a 49-year-old woman who is caring for a parent; AARP’s policy research shows that 40% of caregivers are men.
- NEW SUPPORT GROUP! Join the West Angeles Counseling Center (in partnership with Alzheimer Association/Greater Los Angeles), as we offer the “SAVVY CAREGIVERS SUPPORT GROUP. Please call 323/737-7463 by May 14th to reserve your spot.
- CAREGIVERS: Some states offer payments to family caregivers. For more resources, support, and information for caregivers, please visit https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/.
- VISIT the Administration for Community Living’s page for OLDER AMERICAN MONTH here: #ConnectCreateContribute