The Cottages Blog

3 Caregiving Habits That Can Improve Your Health

Posted by Selena Jackson on Nov 16, 2015 12:00:00 PM

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When you’re devoting so much time and energy to caring for Mom, it can be easy to let your own health and wellness take a backseat. But now more than ever, it’s important that you take care of yourself so that you are in the best possible health as a caregiver. Fortunately, practices you’ve adopted as a caregiver can help make sure that you aren’t putting your health on the back burner.

1.  Make a Schedule

As a caregiver, you know that time management is important. Having good time management skills can make the difference between feeling like you have it all together or feeling like you’ve completely lost control. Use a schedule—an old-fashioned print calendar, a paper planner or a digital calendar—to help keep a handle on all you have going on.

Your own downtime—including breaks from caregiving, exercise, and time with friends and other family—and trips to your doctor should have their own place on the calendar alongside caregiving errands and Mom’s appointments. Set a “to-do” list for each day, week, and month and cross off items as you accomplish them. You’ll feel more confident knowing that you’ve completed everything you need to do, and you’ll probably find yourself less stressed and able to enjoy your downtime even more.

2. Have a Written List of Questions for Your Doctor

When you take Mom in for an appointment, you usually have a list of questions you go through with the doctor to make sure she’s getting the best care. Do the same for yourself. If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue despite getting an adequate amount of sleep, write that down for your next doctor’s visit. If you’re having trouble getting enough exercise lately and need some ideas on staying fit, jot that down, too. Managing your own health is just as important as keeping tabs on Mom’s health, so make sure you’re prepared each time you visit your own doctor.

3. Keep Track of Your Medications

Sure, you do a great job of managing Mom’s medications and making sure she sticks to her schedule and prescribed doses. You even go through her bathroom cabinets every so often to ensure she’s not taking expired medications. But are you doing the same for yourself?

Strive to keep better track of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and go through your cabinets once a year to purge expired medicines. Here are some easy ways to help manage your own medications:

  • Make sure your doctor has a complete list of the medicines you take.

  • If you take several medications each day, use a pill organizer to help you not miss a dose.

  • Set timers or reminders on your smartphone when you need to take a medicine.

  • Speak with your pharmacist about any possible drug interactions that could be occurring between the medications or even vitamins and supplements you’re taking.

Being a Good Caregiver Means Taking Care of Yourself

Whether you’re new to the caregiver role or have been providing care for months or even years, it’s never a bad idea to stop for a moment to make sure you’re caring for yourself, too.

  • Set up a schedule and “to-do” lists to help plan your days and better manage your time.

  • Jot down any questions you may have about your own health as they come to you so you remember to ask your doctor on your next visit.

  • Use a pill organizer or reminders to keep on track with your own medication schedule.

Managing your own health and wellness is just as important as managing Mom’s, so make sure you aren’t letting your own health slip through the cracks as you focus on your caregiving tasks.

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Topics: Advice for Caregivers

Selena Jackson

Written by: Selena Jackson

Selena has been a nurse for 25 years, and has enjoyed 22 years caring for the elderly. As Senior Managing Director, she oversees operations in two of the Cottage locations. Selena is married to Michael Jackson, and has one son, Mason.