Caregiver Health and Wellness
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
A caregiver is someone who gives basic care to a person who has a chronic medical condition. A chronic condition is an illness that lasts for a long time or doesn’t go away. Some examples of chronic conditions are cancer, effects of stroke, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The caregiver helps the person with tasks such as preparing and eating food, taking medicine, bathing, and dressing. Much of the time, a caregiver is a family member.
Path to improved well being
- Eat healthy. Don’t rush through the day with fast food and packaged food. If you are cooking healthy meals for your loved one, you might be able to share. If you don’t have time to cook for yourself, keep healthy snacks around. This includes nuts, peanut butter, whole grains, fresh fruits, and snackable vegetables.
- If you aren’t sleeping well, take naps when your loved one does if you can.
- Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise 4 to 6 times a week. This can can give you more energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood. If your loved one is up for it, you can walk or find another type of exercise to do together.
- Manage stress. Your emotional health can impact your physical health.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. It may seem that these substances help you feel better for a short time, but they can affect your sleep and cause health problems if you use them regularly. If you are having trouble limiting how much you drink or quitting smoking, talk to your family healthcare provider.
- Seek treatment. If you are having emotional difficulties, talk to your healthcare provider, a counselor, a clergy person, or another person trained to help.
- Get regular checkups. Even if you don’t feel sick, it’s important to see your healthcare provider regularly. This will include health tests and screenings, vaccinations, and health advice appropriate for your age, sex, and medical and family history. This helps prevent disease and catch any medical conditions you do have early.
- Take breaks from caregiving. Recognize your limits. Ask others to help regularly or for a period of time. This includes family members, friends, or temporary care workers. Consider other resources, such as in-home health care, adult day service, respite care, meal delivery, transportation services, and hospice care.
Things to consider
Being a caregiver can put you at risk for health problems. This is because you tend to neglect your own health. And some tasks are difficult. This includes lifting or bathing your loved one. It can cause financial stress. All of these things can affect your emotional, mental, and physical health.
Studies show that caregivers have an increased risk for the following health problems:
- Alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse
- Anxiety disorders
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
- Pain, such as muscle or joint pain and headaches
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Caregivers Nova Scotia