– Only when care for ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do as a caregiver. A caregiver is someone who is responsible for attending to the daily needs of another person who is unable to care for themselves due to illness, injury, or disability and includes spouses, parents, grandparents, children, health care providers and other professionals that are trained to provide care to others.
The Cabell Huntington Hospital (CHH) Counseling Center can provide strategies to help those caring for others first take care of themselves to be the most effective.
“One of the hardest things to do is to take care of ourselves,” said Tenikka Phillips, MA, LPC, ALPS, RYT200, employee assistance program coordinator at the CHH Counseling Center. “People don’t realize that if you are not in good mental and physical health, you won’t be able to give someone else the care they need.”
Phillips said many times caregivers must first identify the barriers to self-care that need addressed such as asking for an accepting help from others.
“Asking for help is often difficult to do especially for those who find themselves naturally fitting the role of caregiver,” she explained, “but this is necessary to ensure that one is balancing their own needs with the care of a loved one Having trusted resources to talk to is also very important. These resources may be family, friends, &/or a professional counselor.”
Caregivers live high-stress lives. During a crisis, that stress-level can become unbearable, but Phillips suggests making a schedule and carving time out to do something that focuses on you and your health.
“It is important to give yourself permission to take a walk around the yard, exercise or engage in a hobby that makes you happy,” she said. “Many caregivers may struggle to leave the home if they are a family caregiver therefore taking advantage of online resources such as online exercise programs may be beneficial for them.”
Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Counseling Center will be offering an online support group for all caregivers called, Caring for the Caregiver. The group will be offered each Thursday at 2:30 p.m., beginning April 30. For more information about this group or other available resources, contact the counseling center at 304.526.2049.