Top 10 Caregiver Tips for Maintaining Health and Well-Being

senior couple hugging in kitchen

If you’re a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do is carve out time for yourself. Try to make this a conscious effort every day. It can be as simple as spending 10 minutes taking a walk, diving into the latest bestseller or weeding your garden.

Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. It's key to maintaining your own health and well-being. When you feel better, you can take better care of your loved one.

Keep these simple steps in mind to ensure you find the time and resources to take care of yourself: 
  1. Get regular physical activity. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — even in small increments — can boost your energy level. Exercise reduces stress, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and can help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. Walking is a great way to get started, even if you only take a brisk walk around the yard.
  2. Maintain a heart-healthy diet. A healthy diet will give you more energy. Eating well can help prevent other health problems, too. If you have to “eat on the run,” try to choose nutritious snacks.
  3. Make time for yourself. Take time every day for an activity you enjoy, such as reading, walking, crafts, cooking or listening to music. Whatever makes you happy and relaxes you can be therapeutic.
  4. Keep humor in your life. It’s true — laughter is good medicine. Try to find humor in your life every day. Watch a silly TV program or go to a movie that tickles your funny bone. Find things to laugh about with the loved one in your care — that person needs joy, too.
  5. Get out and about. At least once a week, break out of your routine and go somewhere enjoyable. Visit the local coffee shop, attend religious events, take a class, visit a friend or just wander around the mall. If your loved one needs constant attention, ask for help. It’s likely that someone will be happy to give up an hour or two a week so that you can get out for a breath of fresh air.
  6. Watch out for depression. The demands placed on you as a caregiver can be difficult and stressful. If you are experiencing signs of depression, talk to your health care professional. Often, depression can be managed with talk therapy or medication.
  7. Take care of business. Keep your finances in check, work when you need to and don’t stop planning for the future. If you allow yourself to be totally immersed in your caregiver responsibilities, it can be harder to re-integrate into life later on. Keep living.
  8. Keep medical and dental appointments. Do all you can to maintain your health. If you’re sick, you won’t be able to care for your loved one. Ask for help when you need it so you can get away for your own medical appointments and take care of your health and well-being.
  9. Think positive. Take time every day to refresh your mind. Recognize your limitations and make peace with them. Let go of guilt. Pat yourself on the back for the job you’re doing. If you’re feeling guilty or angry, take a break.
  10. Stay connected with the outside world. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated. Stay connected with family and friends, even if it’s just by phone or online. Talk to friends about something other than your role as a caregiver.