Managing you Health and Wellbeing

Managing you Health and Wellbeing

Many Care Givers neglect their own physical health. They ignore their ailments and neglect preventive health measures like exercise, diet, and regular medical examinations. Many Care Givers do not get 7 hours of sleep a night. If sleep is regularly disrupted because the person with MS wakes in the night needing help with toileting or physical problems, discuss the problems with a health-care professional. The person with MS needs a healthy Care Giver.

Both partners need uninterrupted sleep. This may seem obvious, but Care Givers often exhaust themselves by trying to handle care giving responsibilities on top of normal daily routines. Providing care for a loved one while holding down a job, can lead to exhaustion.

If you do become exhausted, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or to take out your frustrations on your loved one. So take care of yourself; take time out to do things you enjoy even if it means saying no to your loved one. Care Givers who refresh themselves can be there for the long haul.

This Care Giver self –assessment questionnaire can help you to be aware of your own physical and mental state.  

Avoid feeling guilty about taking a break

  • Let go of hyper vigilance.
  • Resistance to accepting help is a common cause of stress and depression among Care Givers. Knowing your limits, and reaching out for assistance before you are beyond your limits, is important.
  • Know that when you are doing everything that you reasonably can for your loved one, you have the right to do some things for yourself.
  • Freely grant yourself a day or evening out; don’t feel you have to be a martyr.

Reject manipulation through guilt

  • Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it takes.
  • Set limits. You are not expected to just “take it” if your loved one is demanding, unreasonable or abusive.
  • Talk with your loved one. Let him/her know that you expect to be treated respectfully, in the same way that you will treat him/her with respect.
  • Think about seeing a counsellor together if this is becoming a significant problem.

There can be deep emotional currents when a loved one becomes ill. Some family members will want to do everything, while others will do very little unless they’re asked. Yet spouses, brothers and sisters, children, and other relatives can do much to ease your care giving role.

The first step is to tell friends and family that their help is needed and welcomed. Friends often worry that offering help might seem intrusive, especially when it looks as if things are being handled well. Keep a list of projects, tasks, and services that friends could do. Then, the next time someone offers to help in some way, it will be easy to oblige them.

Give people specific, time-limited tasks. Asking a friend or relative to come by on Saturday for 3 hours in the afternoon so the Care Giver can do other things is going to be more successful than asking them to stop by when they have a moment.

  • Realise that for you to take care of yourself is not an act of selfishness. You deserve to be healthy and feel well.
  • Recognise the limits of your own endurance and strength.
  • Understand your emotions and don’t be afraid to acknowledge them. Learning to express feelings and to deal with tensions in constructive ways is vital to your emotional and physical health.
  • Do not neglect your own medical check ups, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Be sure to plan for fun and supportive activities.
  • Maintain facets of your life that do not include your loved one, just as you would if he or she were healthy.
  • Listen to what your body is telling you, for example do you need rest, relaxation, exercise?
  • List ways you can nurture yourself. e.g., walking, reading, hobbies, spirituality etc. 
  • Maintain meaningful relationships. Family and friends can be a source of great comfort, help and pleasure.
  • Consider getting breaks early in care giving. If you wait until you are “burned out” these breaks will not be enough. It’s important to make a plan for regular breaks, decide on the time, date, and activity—then follow thorough!