Tips for the Family Caregiver to Prioritize Self Care

November is National Family Caregivers Month and as you navigate the inevitable challenges many individuals are faced with as caregivers to parents, spouses, and other loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other difficult conditions, it is important to remember to take care of yourself too. Caregivers play an essential role in the lives of older adults and, in the process, give much of themselves. Caring for yourself is one of the best things you can do when caring for others.

The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that as many as 70% of family caregivers experience feeling depressed, caused by isolation and loneliness. There is also an increased risk of chronic illness, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, compared to the general population of caregivers, and often report having sleep deprivation, poor eating and exercise habits, and failure to keep personal medical appointments. As a family caregiver, here are some tips for you to take time for yourself and prioritize self care:

  • Establish a workout routine
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Practice meditation or yoga daily
  • Simply take a break
  • Spend time with friends or other family members
  • Join a support group

Although it may be hard to remember, it’s extremely important for the caregiver and the person being cared for to prioritize their own needs. This is not a selfish act and will reduce overall caregiver stress, which allows the focus to stay on the benefits of family caregiving.

If you begin to feel overwhelmed, take respite. HealthStar Home Health offers a variety of home health care services and supports, including a respite care program which provides planned short-term and time-limited breaks for caregivers. Our healthcare professionals help with housekeeping, personal care, and companionship so the caregiver can focus on their own physical and mental health, and improve their overall well-being.

With access to HealthStar’s Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS), you and your loved one will learn a variety of skills to help manage independent living and social situations. These skills, along with the services and program options is another way to prevent caregiver burnout. Take advantage of what we offer to lift some pressure off your shoulders as caregiver. This will allow you the opportunity to take some much needed time for yourself and promote your own healthy habits.

Caring for a spouse or family member demonstrates love and commitment and can be one of the most important and rewarding roles a person will play, but it can also be stressful and demanding. The skills gained are invaluable and the loving relationships grow stronger, but every caregiver needs help at times. Don’t lose focus on your own needs while caring for others – it can lead to an unhealthy situation for the patient and caregiver. Contact HealthStar Home Health to learn more about the services and programs we provide and let us develop an individualized plan of care that will benefit you and your loved one. Call us today at 651-633-7300 or visit our website www.healthstarhomehealth.net.

Tips for Eating Healthy as You Age Including an Ingredient That is Often Missed

Practicing healthy nutrition and eating habits should be a priority at any age, but as we get older our body and lifestyle changes significantly. A slowing metabolism, changing calorie requirements, and chronic medical conditions can make meeting nutritional needs a challenge. Finding a good balance that includes all the major food groups while considering your aging loved one’s health issues is key, but don’t forget an often-overlooked ingredient. Companionship.

Dietary needs change as we age

As the National Council on Aging states, the definition of healthy eating changes the older we get which means it is even more important to choose foods that offer the best nutritional value. The foundation of your diet should be nutrient-rich foods including:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • legumes
  • whole grains
  • low- or non-fat dairy

A well-balanced diet should also include high protein foods such as fish, lean meats and poultry, nuts, and lentils. The USDA recently introduced MyPlate, a simpler way to make sure people are choosing items from all 5 food groups. Instead of using the traditional food pyramid, the Department of Agriculture created a plan with easy-to-read graphics which reflect the proper servings of each food group and tailored it to different life stages.

A key ingredient to any healthy diet is companionship

Think outside the box when planning, prepping and enjoying a meal together with a companion. Including someone who is involved with the entire meal process will reduce the risk of loneliness, which can lead to poor nutrition and eating habits. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of older adults were left with no option but to follow the quarantine and self-isolation orders. Research has shown, that social isolation can lead to loneliness and nutritional risk for anyone, but especially the aging population. As quarantine restrictions are being lifted and it’s safer to do so, now is the time to get back in the kitchen and the routine of planning, preparing and sharing a meal with your aging loved one. Connecting over some favorite dishes might be the secret recipe to making mealtimes special again. 

Preparing and eating meals together will not only offer the personal connection to your loved one, but will ensure that the elements of nutrition that many seniors are lacking is included to create a well-balanced, nutritious plate. A healthy diet which includes companionship is one we all can benefit from. 

How HealthStar can help

At HealthStar Home Health, we understand how overwhelming and confusing it can be to care for a loved one at home. Our home health care services offer a variety of supports to enable your loved one live a more independent and fulfilling life while staying in their own home, including companion care to prepare and share a meal with.

HealthStar Home Health can help you plan out specific set of care, chores, and transportation through our Home & Community Services and Personal Care Assistance offerings. HealthStar’s respite care program provides planned short-term breaks for caregivers. Respite care allows time for the caregiver to care for themself. The assistance and companionship provided by our skilled and loving professionals while you’re away helps to support and maintain a healthy relationship and leaves a positive experience for the patient. Contact us today for more information.