A caregiver’s world revolves around unending demands. These demands may drain you emotionally, mentally and physically. But the biggest drag is on your time. How big? For many caregivers, just enjoying 15 minutes alone is an unimaginable luxury.
After all, you are your loved one’s eyes and ears. They depend on you to be their “voice” and interpret the world around them. Many people living with dementia have lost their sense of time, so if you are away for 15 minutes, they feel abandoned for an entire day. This dependency means they may want you around – and in sight – 24/7.
Providing in-home care is a strenuous task. Home Care Assistance hopes that as a home care agency, we can provide guidance to our Oklahoma City and surrounding area clients. If you need help or have any questions, please reach out to us. We are here to assist you in the home health care journey.
15 Minutes to Refresh
Let’s say you look after a parent with dementia. They may be anxious and follow you from sunrise until long after dark. You do your best to manage your emotions and remain patient. Still, you have needs of your own. How, where and when do you create space to breathe? Self-Care Isn’t Selfish. Caregiver burnout is real and can lead to serious problems for your emotional and physical health. Rather than continuing to ignore the growing stress, acknowledge it and pledge to do something about it. If you need an excuse to take care of yourself, remember that the person you are looking after relies on you taking care of yourself in order to care for them.
Develop a self-care strategy. Your dream of 15 minutes alone can become reality. Ask yourself: Do you need to be physically separate from your loved one to practice self-care? Is this possible? If not, can you take care of yourself while you’re in the room with them? Are there options to do it together? Your answers will help you choose the right approach.
15 Minutes for Yourself…While You Care for Another
Can you really take 15 minutes for yourself while in the same room with a loved one? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.
If you are caring for a parent or spouse, you may get so task-focused that you forget about your own well-being. Try these approaches when you are together:
Develop a breathing practice. After all, you need to breathe anyway! There are many possibilities for breath work. You can do these with anyone present, and breathing techniques improve heart and brain health. <hyperlink: https://homecareassistance.com/blog/three-breathing-techniques-heart-brain-health>
Try mindfulness. The only requirement for this simple form of meditation is the willingness to sit still and watch your thoughts. Developing a healthy detachment from the challenges of the moment can be refreshing and provide you with the care you need. <hyperlink: http://homecareassistance.com/blog/how-mindfulness-can-help-prevent-caregiver-burnout>
Listen to music. Share the joy of music together, or don a pair of headphones and listen while you watch your loved one.
Read. Depending on the situation, you could dip into a novel. Keep reading material or your favorite device handy.
Exercise. If your parent is able, you can do some simple exercises together. Or, bring an exercise mat into the room and perform floor exercises right there.
More togetherness ideas. Other ideas for creating some relaxing time during care include jigsaw puzzles, watching TV, or even having “tea time” — a daily ritual you share with your loved one.
Further Reading About Caregiver Burnout
Out of Sight but Still On-Site
If you are able to leave the room while taking care of someone else, it can afford you some more ways to self-care. Here are five ways to use 15 minutes alone in a spare room:
Take a power nap. A short nap will refresh you, and won’t interfere with your evening sleep. Even if you can’t (or don’t want to) fall asleep, you can still rest and collect your thoughts.
Do floor exercises. Stretching, yoga and aerobic exercise can all be performed in a confined space.
Talk to a friend. Can you spend your 15 minutes on the phone with a friend? If you’re able to set time to do this in advance, great! If that’s not practical, phone someone to share how your day is going.
Meditate or pray. Many caregivers find that a short break to reconnect with their spiritual life can lift their spirits.
Take a video vacation. Go online and find a channel that features relaxing scene or music.
An Outside Chance at 15 Minutes Alone
Do you have the option to go to a park, garden, or natural area? If so, here are some ideas for how to spend your 15 minutes outside.
Walk. Take a few minutes for a brisk stroll. If it’s on a city street that’s totally fine. But if you have access to a park or a beach, all the better. If the weather and environment is right, you can even try a technique called earthing, which means walking barefoot. Some studies show that walking sans shoes reconnects us to mother earth and satisfies our soul.
Just sit. Take a seat someplace and drink it all in. That might mean a park bench or a patch of grass or a local coffee shop.
For more about self-care for people who give their all to their loved ones, take a long slow deep breath — then review this post on the importance of not isolating yourself as a caregiver.
If you think it may be time to start in-home care, you aren’t alone. Home Care Assistance can provide guidance to patients and families in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas. If you are looking for Edmond home care or dementia care in Oklahoma City, reach out to us. We are ready to help you through the home care process.