November is National Family Caregiver’s Month, and we wanted to offer a few tips for caregivers to help them maintain their own health this month and throughout the year. Don’t forget to check out our resource page for organizations and foundations that may be able to help ease the burden.
Associate yourself with the Family Medical Leave Act & make sure you know your rights.The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition. Learn more here.
Eat well and get exercise. Even just a few minutes of activity a day can do wonders for your mental health. If you’re cooking for a loved one, make enough for yourself. A good diet keeps you strong so you can continue to care for a loved one. Check out these stress-fighting foods.
Accept help from friends and family. It can seem like more help to coordinate the help than to do it all yourself, but there are apps and websites that enable you to create a calendar that can be shared amongst loved ones. Care calendar, Caregiver’s Touch, and Care Zone are just a few apps you can use to get organized. Not tech savvy? Ask for help from a friend who coordinates an office or has children. They are without a doubt good at planning and organizing, ask them to create a spreadsheet to organize medications and create a calendar to schedule meals and visiting hours.
Don’t be afraid to pay for help. You don’t need to hire a live-in caretaker to make things much easier. Small things that cost very little extra can be a huge help: Have food delivered through Fresh Direct, Amazon, Pea Pod, Instacart. Drop off your laundry. Hire a cleaning service. Have a neighbor shovel your driveway or rake leaves. The possibilities are endless and though it may seem silly to get help with the smaller stuff think about what you could be doing during that time instead?
Find a support group. Caregiving is a job chock full of emotion. Vent with others who will understand. www.cancercare.org
Don’t be afraid to call a friend. After an initial surgery or diagnosis, people are always there to help, but that help can taper off quickly. If you are feeling deserted, don’t be ashamed to call a friend and tell them you are still in the thick of things and need a hand. Chances are they’ll come right over or take a few hours in the coming days to stop by.
Set up appointments with your doctor. Keep track of your health and make sure you are getting all vaccines and taking precautions necessary to keep your loved one safe!