Caregiving, recognising signs of depression and how to cope with it.

While in the process of providing exceptional care to others, many caregivers fail to provide themselves with proper care. Providing proper care for others is oftentimes all-consuming, especially if the person receiving the care suffers from Alzheimer’s or is incontinent.

If you are an otherwise healthy and capable person but lately you’ve not been feeling “right,” the stress of your job may be taking a toll. Depression may be setting in, especially if you find yourself crying for no apparent reason, and/or feeling tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, or alone. Pay attention to these feelings; they’ll likely get worse if you don’t take action.

Here are some tips for avoiding the depression that often accompanies caregiving:

Take time out for Yourself
Caregivers rarely take time for themselves. If you’re not taking time to rest, eat well and exercise moderately, you will suffer. Maybe not today or next week, but it will happen. It really doesn’t take long to plan and prepare nutritionally-balanced meals and snacks. Doing so gives your body the fuel it needs to perform all the tasks you ask of it. You’ve got to get uninterrupted rest, too. Get exercise any way you can: gardening, housekeeping, going up and down stairs, walking the aisles of the grocery store, playing your favorite sport, even pushing a wheelchair can get your heart beating and your blood flowing.

Do things at your own pace
Do what you can, when you can. It may help to prioritise your caregiving duties. Focus on those daily tasks that absolutely must get done. Schedule the other tasks when you have time. Once you start to prioritise your work, you’ll notice that you actually get more accomplished.

Ask for Assistance
Speak with your family members about your need for help, and together, figure out when others can come in so you can have a break. If you have no family members, you’ve got to hire in-home help, or make arrangements at a senior day care facility. Do whatever it takes to get time off. YOUR health depends on this.

Put a Moratorium on Guilt
No one gains from feeling guilty, in fact, guilt is an immobilising emotion. Let it go and you’ll feel better instantly.

Have Some Fun
Keep social events on your calendar and your health will benefit. Get out to the movies, have coffee, – do whatever it is that you enjoy – in the company of others.

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