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Self-Care for Caregivers

Self-Care for Caregivers

November 21, 2022

Taking Care of You So You Can Care for Others

During this season of thanks, it is crucial that we take the time to express our gratitude to those we love and appreciate most—and caregivers are at the top of that list! To put it plainly, a caregiver is any individual who tends to the needs of a family member and helps them with functions necessary for daily life that they cannot do themselves.Caregivers not only support individuals but can also be the glue to many families as a whole. AARP estimates that 48 million Americans currently provide unpaid care for a family or friend, incurring an average of $7,200 in annual expenses. Long-term care insurance plans can be an option for some individuals and help alleviate financial burdens on unpaid caregivers but won’t be a great option if they weren't planned for in advance.

The Importance of Caregivers

By the end of the decade, 24 million Americans will need long-term care, nearly double the current need, but with a dwindling supply of caregivers, there may not be enough to meet the demand, according to the American Action Forum. Caregivers fulfill an essential role in society but rarely receive the recognition they deserve. There are both paid and unpaid caregivers, and the responsibilities of each one vary depending on the care recipient’s circumstances and the support needed. While caregivers provide an infinite amount of support, here are just a few ways they are necessary:

  • Caregivers offer companionship. Many people in need of caregiving are left feeling isolated and alone. Caregivers can provide a great friendship to them during the many hours spent together, allowing the care recipient to still feel connected.
  • Caregivers foster independence. While caregivers provide support where needed, they often encourage their care recipients to continue to perform the tasks they can handle as often as possible to maintain independence in the areas they still have.
  • Caregivers enhance one’s quality of life. Caregivers allow those who, in other circumstances, may not be able to experience certain things without additional support.
  • Caregivers provide peace of mind to other family members. Having someone who knows the ins and outs of a person’s care can remove some pressure from family members and loved ones who cannot care for them as much as they’d like.

It is not hard to imagine that in the midst of all this care for others, caregivers often forget they have their own needs that need to be fulfilled, especially if they want to continue caring for others for an extended period.

Ways Caregivers Can Care for Themselves

For many caregivers, it may feel unnatural or selfish to do anything for themselves, but without self-care, they will not be able to care for their loved ones in the way they’d like and in the way the care recipient would need. With this in mind, here are just a few ways caregivers can practice self-care.

  • Prioritize your mental and physical health. Rooted in this tip is the idea that you cannot fully care for others if you are not caring for yourself as well. Depending on the responsibilities, a caregiver may require varying degrees of physicality, so they can most efficiently perform their duties. On top of this, though, is the need to care for your mental health, as the job can throw many twists and turns your way. Whether it is therapy, meditation, or something else, prioritizing both mental and physical health is vital to self-care.
  • Reduce personal stress. A caregiver’s stress could be influenced by various factors, such as whether the caregiving was voluntary, the relationship with the care recipient, and more. While it is impossible to avoid stress altogether, try to find ways both within and outside your work responsibilities to limit its impact on you.
  • Separate work from life. This may not be applicable for all but where it is, give this a try. Remember that your life is not caregiving, and it is okay not to do things for other people all the time.
  • Asking for and accepting help. It is common for caregivers to think they have to handle everything on their own because they are frequently carrying the load for other people as well. However, it is human to need help, and it does not make a caregiver incapable of his or her duties by needing help.
  • Be gentle with and kind to yourself. It’s important to remember that these lifestyle changes will not be made overnight, which is okay! Caregivers know better than most that patience during any process is a requirement, and grace is necessary for progress.
  • Plan for long-term care expenses. Whether you are a paid caregiver or not planning for your own care needs and those of your family are important. Long-term care expenses are a key risk to your retirement plan, having a plan in place is critical to easing the burden on you, your family, and your friends.

Caregivers are not meant to neglect their own needs for the sake of others; instead, they must ensure they are the best version of themselves so they can continue to provide the most excellent care they seek to give to their loved ones. For additional resources, caregivers can use to care for themselves, visit