Self-Care: An Essential Tool for Caregiving

Self-Care: An Essential Tool for Caregiving

The saying “you must fill your cup before filling others” is a quote that holds true with caregiving. Although the bonds and fulfillment of caring for others can be a driving force for caregivers, caregiving can also be quite a taxing role to take on. Meeting the needs and responsibilities of those in your care can oftentimes lead to negative effects on the caregiver’s physical and mental well-being. Neglecting to address these effects may eventually take a toll on both the caregiver and those in their care. Whether you are a family caregiver or a professional caregiver, making time to care for yourself is essential and should never be seen as selfish. 

When providing care, it’s natural to prioritize the needs of your loved one over your own, but doing so can lead to caregiver burnout and negatively impact your mental and physical health. It’s essential to keep an eye out for symptoms of burnout and take appropriate measures to prevent it.

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

  • Trouble sleeping too little or too much
  • Exhaustion that makes daily tasks difficult
  • Feelings of dread, guilt, being overwhelmed, or anxiousness
  • Easily agitated
  • Physical symptoms—headaches, stomach aches, getting sick more often, changes in weight
  • Withdrawing from people or hobbies you enjoy
  • Feeling disconnected from reality or that caregiving is taking over your life

Self-care is not selfish. It’s essential for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Taking care of yourself and addressing these symptoms allows you to better care for your loved ones. Self-care can help you:

  • Reduce Stress: Find ways to help you manage the stress that may be brought on by caregiving. Blast your favorite tunes, take a walk, write your thoughts down in a journal, meditate — whatever your style may be, find what aids in a significant and positive impact on your stress levels.
  • Boost Your Immune System: When you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re more likely to get sick. Taking time to rest, eat healthy, and exercise can help keep your immune system strong.
  • Improve Your Mental Health: Setting time aside for yourself can help improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and prevent depression.
  • Enhance Your Quality of Life: When you’re taking care of yourself, you’re better able to enjoy life and take pleasure in the things that matter most to you.

Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Here are some self-care tips that can help you maintain your physical, mental, and emotional well-being while caring for others:

  • Take Time for Yourself: Whether it’s a few minutes or a few hours, it’s essential to take time for yourself each day. Use this time to do something you enjoy, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or spending time with friends.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Exercise Regularly: Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, improve your mood, and keep you healthy. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as walking, yoga, or swimming.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet can help you stay healthy and energized. Aim for plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a practice that can help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help you stay present in the moment.
  • Reach Out: Seek help from a professional if needed or create a support network for yourself. Simply having someone to talk to or listen can be so cathartic.  

Self-care is essential for caregivers. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better able to care for your loved ones and enjoy a higher quality of life. Remember, self-care is not selfish. It’s a necessary part of being a caregiver.

Still unsure if you are experiencing burnout? Try this caregiver assessment from the American Medical Association. 

Related Articles: 
Caregiver Tips to Proactively Prioritize Your Mental Health
Caregivers: Making An Impact Isn’t Always Easy

Commemorating Caregivers

Commemorating Caregivers

National Family Caregiver Month — Every day, but especially the month of November, is a time to commemorate the caregivers in our lives and across the country, draw awareness of caregiving issues, educate the community, and increase support for caregivers. 

Providing care for loved ones is rewarding and fulfilling but can also become overwhelming. Studies indicate that a vast majority of caregivers experience anxiety and depression as it is easy to get wrapped up in the health of loved ones, as well as see it as a foreshadowing of what may happen to oneself. This emotional and physical toll on caregivers is called burnout. 

While caring for others, caregivers tend to forget about themselves or push their needs aside. Caregivers advocate for a healthy diet, routine exercise, mental practices, and proper treatments with their clients. Still, it is important to practice what they preach and habituate these daily practices in their own lives as well. 

“One must fill their own cup before filling others” is a saying that’s often easier said than done. But through continuing to empower and support the caregivers in our lives and community, the adverse repercussions often associated with caregiving can be reduced and diminished, enabling caregivers to provide care for themselves and loved ones longer and stronger.

Ways to Support & Commemorate Caregivers 

  • Routinely reach out and check on the caregivers in your life. 
  • Ask about their day. 
  • Offer a helping hand with daily tasks (laundry, dishes, housekeeping, etc.) 
  • Lend a listening ear or shoulder to lean on.
  • Cook them a meal or invite them out to dinner.
  • Write a thank you letter about the amazing care they have given you and your family. 
  • Encourage them to seek mental health services if necessary. 

Whatever it may be, find a way to make the caregiver in your life feel included, heard, and loved.

Ways to Recharge as a Caregiver

  • Practice healthy living with routine exercise and a balanced diet. 
  • Find time for a hobby that makes you happy and feel accomplished, creative, or peaceful. 
  • Discover a mindful practice that brings you peace of mind or an outlet to channel your emotions. 
  • Journal. Getting your thoughts out on paper (or digitally) can be very therapeutic.
  • Establish a support system however feels best for you — through friends and family, a support group, etc. 
  • Reach out when needed, either to your support system or a healthcare or mental health professional.

Never feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Taking the time to care for oneself can ultimately lengthen the strides in your life as well as those around you and those you are caring for. If you’re a family caregiver and struggling with caregiver burnout, please reach out to us and let us help you care for you

Related Articles: 
Caregiver Burnout Prevention
Resources Available For Family Caregivers
Caregiver Tips to Proactively Prioritize Your Mental Health

Caregiver Burnout Prevention

The first step to being an awesome caregiver is caring for yourself. 

Caregivers sometimes feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. They’re often providing support for someone else’s needs without recharging between tasks. This can lead to the feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed physically and emotionally—commonly known as burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a term that refers to the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion experienced by stressed caregivers. It can lead to symptoms like depression or anxiety which make it difficult for them to provide quality care for their loved ones. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent this from happening. Keep reading to find out how!

Signs of caregiver burnout

As a caregiver, you may focus on your loved one and overlook the toll that stress can take. It’s important to watch for signs of burnout.

  • Trouble sleeping too little or too much
  • Exhaustion that makes daily tasks difficult
  • Feelings of dread, guilt, being overwhelmed, or anxiousness
  • Easily agitated
  • Physical symptoms—headaches, stomach aches, getting sick more often, changes in weight
  • Withdrawing from people or hobbies you enjoy
  • Feeling disconnected from reality or that caregiving is taking over your life

Still unsure if you are experiencing burnout? Try this caregiver assessment from the American Medical Association.

Causes of caregiver burnout

Burnout is often the result of neglecting physical, emotional, and mental needs, but the following issues can also contribute.

  • Conflicting roles: When you become a caregiver, it can be difficult to separate your role as caregiver from other important relationships such as a parent, spouse, friend, or co-worker. You may find yourself neglecting other important relationships or letting them come second.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Caregivers often expect their care to have a positive impact on their loved one’s health, but this is not always realistic—especially for patients suffering from progressive diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Caregivers are also often overburdened—either by the expectations they’ve placed on themselves or by family members who demand more of them than they can handle. If you have an elderly loved one who needs memory care in Albuquerque, our specialized CARE programs can help.
  • Lack of control: Many caregivers find themselves frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively care for their loved one. It can also be overwhelming to feel like you had no choice in caregiving or that you have no privacy due to the time it takes to care for your loved one.

Preventing caregiver burnout

Caregiving is an important role that can come with the highest emotional and physical demands. It’s crucial to take care of yourself in order for you to be able to provide quality assistance when providing loved ones care. Now that you know what signs and causes to watch out for, here are some burnout prevention tips! 

Have realistic expectations and goals

Caring for a loved one can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why it is important to set realistic expectations, create daily routines, break down large goals into small tasks, or even just say no when requests feel like too much! Allow yourself to take breaks from caregiving, and share responsibilities with other family members. A Place At Home offers in-home care services 24/7 or even a few hours a day that can help share the load.

Accept negative feelings as a normal part of caregiving—it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or that your loved one needs more care, but rather it is a result of your overwhelming role. It’s normal to feel guilty at times, but know that no one is a perfect caregiver. You’re doing your best with what information and knowledge you have—even when things don’t go exactly as planned!

Support network

Create a support network for yourself consisting of family, friends, and your community. Communicate with family and friends about your loved one’s health and situation. Join a support group online or in your community with others who face the same challenges as you. Find resources for caregivers in your area such as transportation, food delivery, or housekeeping. A Place At Home offers in-home care for seniors in Albuquerque that can help make life easier.

Take time to build positive relationships outside of caregiving, especially with those who offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Create a time each week to do this, even if it is just a phone call with a friend!

Stay healthy

Don’t neglect your own health while caring for someone else. Set personal health goals and routines, and achieve them. Get plenty of sleep, drink water, exercise frequently, and eat a healthy diet. Remember to set your own doctor’s appointments and screenings. Talk to professionals—such as doctors, therapists, or social workers trained to counsel people in mental and emotional issues. 

Caregiving can be rewarding yet overwhelming, but you are not alone. A Place At Home offers compassionate senior-focused care. Whether you need daily in-home companion care, assistance navigating with health care options, or help finding a senior living alternative, our professional caregivers in Albuquerque can help. 

Schedule a free consultation today! You can expect an immediate response from our staff about any questions you may have.

November 2020: Recognizing Family Caregivers

November is National Family Caregiver Month. This month, we recognize the importance of those that serve as caregivers for their loved ones. 

In 1994, the Caregiver Action Network dubbed November as the month to recognize and honor those Americans that give their time and energy to care for the ones they love. This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock,” and for a good reason. 

Of the 53 million adults who identify as a family caregiver, 40% of them live with the person they care for full-time. 

Being a family caregiver is no small feat. Caring for another person can be a full-time job. Given that most Americans require two incomes to support their households, most family caregivers juggle careers, children, and life in general. Whether you’re an adult child caring for a parent, or a spouse caring for your other half, caregiver burnout is a real thing. The pandemic doesn’t make things any easier. The CDC is now recommending that family caregivers be assessed regular mental health assessments in the future. 

Currently, almost 40% of those caring for a loved one are experiencing anxiety and depression directly related to COVID-19.

Some of that anxiety is from the everyday stress of juggling life and caring full-time for another adult. But some of this stress comes from situations we’ve never seen before in our lifetimes. For example, the decision to keep a parent home versus moving them into a senior living community. While the idea of being around one’s peers and having the socialization that communities can offer, the pandemic has many people choosing to keep their loved-ones home, where it’s safer from the risk of infection. For some, their loved ones were living away from home when Covid hit the US. Now, the concern is the isolation that their loved-ones are facing while visitors are no longer allowed into facilities. 

Whatever the situation, family caregivers are facing unparalleled levels of anxiety and stress.

National Family Caregiver Month is an excellent time to remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re a family caregiver, you must take care of yourself first, no matter how counterintuitive it may feel in the moments of everyday life. Taking care of yourself looks like getting enough sleep, exercise, and yes, even time away from the person you’re caring for. 

It can be challenging to decide what you can remove from your plate when caring for someone you love. Start with small doses. For example, managing your loved one’s medications can be a daunting task. Have an agency come in and take over this task for you. It takes an hour or less a week, but the weight off of your shoulders is invaluable. You can also hire an agency to provide respite care. Respite can give you the much-needed opportunity to step away and take time for yourself. Having someone you trust to take care of your loved one while you take care of yourself is also invaluable. 

You may feel guilty about taking time for yourself, but having the time to fill your cup will make huge strides in your quality of life. And that will positively impact the quality of time and care that you’re able to provide your parent, spouse, or other family members. If you’re a family caregiver and struggling with caregiver burnout, reach out to us. A Place At Home offers both respite care and medication management, among other services. Our priority is caring for your loved one so that you can care for yourself.  

Self-Care in the Midst of a Pandemic – Essential Now More Than Ever

Self-Care during pandemic

Self-care has become an often-touted buzz word in the last few years, and for good reason. As the world spins around us, we find ourselves taking care of our children, our jobs, our houses, our parents… the list goes on and on. There is one thing that remains the same as our lives evolve: you cannot effectively care for others if you’re not taking care of yourself. In the year 2020, with the world seemingly tilted on its axis due to the global pandemic that is COVID-19, self-care is even more relevant than before.

All of us have found ourselves at the mercy of the uncertainty of what will come next. Indeed, we are in a situation that few, if any of us, have any familiarity with. Now more than ever, we need to practice self-care. This is true if you’re an essential employee, or an essential family member trying to hold your life, and the lives of your loved ones together. Even in the surrealness of today’s world, there are things you can do to find balance.

 Fuel Your Body

With restaurants across the nation closing their dining rooms, and grocery shopping whittled down to a once-weekly affair, it’s easier than ever to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Much of our mental health is connected directly to the physical health of our bodies. It’s easy to slip into a routine of shopping for non-perishables right now. However, ensuring you and your family are consuming lots of fruits and vegetables keeps your immune system strong and your mind balanced.

Staying active is another great way to fuel your body. You don’t need fancy equipment to stay active; get out and explore your neighborhood with your pet, or a hike in nature.

 Fuel Your Mind and Spirit

Even if you’re considered an essential employee, your time outside of work has likely opened up as recreational and social activities have closed down. Use this time wisely. Dive into all the things you might have complained about not having time for in the past. Read books, learn new recipes, write, get back into an old hobby that you haven’t had time for. The activity itself doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you enjoy it, it fills your cup and keeps your thoughts occupied on something other than COVID-19.

 Fuel Your Relationships

Now isn’t the time to get together with your friends – but you can still stay in touch with them. We have the opportunity now to utilize technology and social media for more than scrolling. Start a weekly group chat and do a virtual “happy hour”, or use zoom to play a virtual game of Pictionary.  Reconnect with those living in your household now that you all have time. You’re in the same place, go for walks together. Take advantage of having nowhere to be and cuddle up on the couch for a movie night.

 The world is far different than it was just a couple of months ago, and it can be easy to let the pandemic and all that comes with it consume your thoughts. Instead, we invite you to turn your TV off, put your phone down, take a breath, and take care of yourself in a way that allows you to focus on all the things you have in your life to be grateful for.

If you’re still finding yourself in need of extra help, there are still ways to make every day life easier. Contact us to set up a free consultation.

Caregiver Tips to Proactively Prioritize Your Mental Health

Caregiver Journaling

It’s a new decade and it’s time for caregivers to proactively prioritize their mental health to avoid burnout.

Professional caregiving is not for the faint of heart. It takes a desire to impact the lives of others. Many have children of their own, maybe family caregivers for someone close to them, and often find themselves working multiple jobs. The effect on one’s physical and emotional wellbeing can be overwhelming. Often, when a person being cared for is under duress, their caregiver can feel it also. That empathy is what leads many professional caregivers to the field, but it also can lead to exhaustion and burnout which takes a toll on your mental health.

The mental stress experienced on a regular basis can have a negative effect. It’s true, you cannot care for others properly if you’re not putting your own needs first. That can be difficult advice to follow, but it’s imperative not only for yourself but for those under your care. Fortunately, there are some realistic, easy ways to proactively prioritize your mental health:


Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to improve long term stress levels and your overall mood. Writing for just 20 minutes a day can have positive, long term effects, both on your mental health, and physically. It’s one of the most therapeutic actions you can take, and the benefits of how you feel after are almost immediate. You can learn more about journaling and all its benefits here.


Often, people hear the word meditation and immediately think, “I could never stop my thoughts long enough to meditate”. Here’s the kicker – no one can, it’s impossible. That’s not the point. Sitting with yourself in silence allows you to be aware of your thoughts, and instead of reacting to them, acknowledging them without attachment to the feelings they induce. Even ten minutes a day (sometimes less!) produces benefits such as stress reduction, increased concentration, peace of mind, reduction in blood pressure numbers, better sleep, and overall better mental health. You can find out more about meditation, how to get started, and it’s many benefits here.


Yoga is another fantastic way to prioritize yourself before you start giving to others. As with journaling and meditation, it doesn’t take much time out of your day to produce massive benefits. Just 15 minutes a day produces effects such as stress reduction, better sleep, more energy, boosts your immune system, and allows you to communicate with your body, and how each part of it feels. This quick, 15-minute routine is easy to follow, and it’s enough to have you feeling real results, very soon.

There are many more ways to put yourself first on a daily basis, but the only place to start is at the beginning. The practices listed in this article take less than an hour a day in total, and you’ll find the benefits to be exponential. Caring for yourself first allows you to fully serve those you care for, in the most fulfilling and rewarding way possible, for both you, and those in your charge.

A Place At Home is always looking to hire qualified and compassionate caregivers. Apply today to be a professional caregiver that makes an impact on the lives of seniors.

10 Tips for Navigating the Holidays and Alzheimer’s

A Place At Home Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s this holiday season? While being a caregiver is both challenging and rewarding, the holidays bring some special challenges and require a prepared, proactive approach.

Here are 10 tips to help you navigate the holidays while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s:

1. Find Ways Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Can Be Involved

Just because your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can’t be involved in the holiday celebrations. Even if it’s something simple like packing holiday tins with cookies, assisting in decorating or wrapping gifts, or signing and sending greeting cards – it can mean a lot to the person doing it.

2. Write A Holiday Wish List 

Some holiday gifts can be inappropriate or even dangerous for someone who has Alzheimer’s. So, take the time to create a wish list for your loved one this season. Get ideas from your loved one and others who know him/her, cross off anything that wouldn’t be a good idea given your loved one’s condition – and share the list online. Check out these gift ideas.

3. Let Others Know What To Expect This Holiday Season

Be sure to keep the whole family informed on all developments in your loved one’s Alzheimer’s condition. Let them know what he/she can handle and what he/she can’t. For example, patients with Alzheimer’s tend not to do well in conversations with multiple voices all going at once – one-on-one conversations are best.

4. Maintain Routine As Much As Possible

People with Alzheimer’s generally need to follow a pretty strict routine. It helps them avoid confusion, disruption, and needless stress. Thus, while there will be special events during the holidays, regular day-to-day activities should be maintained at all other times.

5. Consider A Holiday Lunch Or Brunch Instead Of Dinner

Alzheimer’s symptoms may be more prevalent during the evening hours, and it’s just harder on them to have guests over for a dinner party as opposed to earlier in the day. See if you can have people visit for a holiday lunch or brunch at Mom or Dad’s house instead of the (usually) more traditional dinner gathering. Or check with the Assisted Living community as sometimes Holiday meals may be offered.

6. Be Creative With Introducing New Holiday Traditions

Most of us tend to get stuck in a holiday rut, as it were, and the very thought of changing old holiday traditions may seem unsettling. But new traditions can be founded that accommodate the family member with Alzheimer’s and the fact you are spending a lot of time caring for him/her. Watching a favorite holiday movie together or meeting at a special restaurant are some examples.

7. Simplify The Holidays To Reduce Stress

As a caregiver, you will have less time to deal with the holidays than you may have had in the past. You don’t have to “skip” the holidays, but you probably do need to scale things back a bit. Little things like doing your Christmas shopping online or using gift bags instead of wrapping paper will save time and reduce stress.

8. Know Your Limitations & Ask For Help

Nothing can be more stressful than trying to do what you don’t feel qualified to do or what you simply can’t find the time to do. Ask other family members to help as needed and go to professionals for timely assistance and for help with anything outside your field of expertise.

9. Consider Holiday In-Home Care

You may not want to have your loved one move into a senior living community, or at least not yet while their condition is not too far along. De-stress the holidays by hiring in-home care and giving your loved one some special attention while you run errands. Contact A Place At Home – Omaha to learn how we can help your loved one during the holiday season and beyond where needed.

10. Join An Online Support Community

Finally, 10 tips are never enough – you need more! So be quick to join an online Alzheimer’s caregiver support community or talk with other caregivers to “pick their brains” for ideas and find resources, support, and encouragement!

In the end, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Remember that regardless of any memory issues your loved one lives with, it’s still important to include them in holiday events.

Resources Available For Family Caregivers

National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize the sacrifices made by 90 million Americans providing voluntary care to their loved ones.

The economic value of unpaid caregiving services provided to an adult with limitations was estimated at $470 billion in 2013, according to the AARP. This amount exceeded what was spent on home care and nursing services combined. With nearly one in five United States citizens projected to be 65 years of age or older by the year 2030, the number of family caregivers is only expected to rise.

For the last two decades, Presidents have recognized November as National Family Caregivers Month to honor the millions of selfless Americans who dedicate their time and resources to be a caregiver to a loved one who wishes to remain at home.

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is a non-profit organization providing free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country. Their theme this year is #becarecurious to encourage family caregivers across the country to ask questions, explore options and share in the care decisions that affect the health and well‐being of their loved ones.

There are innumerable sacrifices made by caregivers as they tend to daily tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and giving medication. These tasks can expand into dressing, grooming, bathing, researching information on diseases and tending to financial matters.

Caregiving can sometimes get extremely overwhelming and the person providing care can become overworked. They can find it difficult to enjoy their loved one because it all begins to feel like work. Print these 10 helpful tips from CAN for yourself or a caregiver in your life to ensure they continue to mindful of their own health as well. You can also read these self-care tips for caregivers.

A Place at Home: Trust Us for Compassionate Senior Care

At A Place At Home senior care, we know that sometimes you need a break from your caregiving duties. When you find it difficult to juggle work, family, household, and caregiving for a loved one, that’s when we step in. Whether you just need a few hours or 24/7 care—we are here to provide compassionate care solutions, where and when you need us. We offer a continuum of care for seniors ranging from in-home care services and care coordination to senior living alternatives. Contact us today for more information.

Upcoming Events: Free Workshops on Ways to Pay for Senior Care and Caregiver Burnout

Join us for two free informational workshops this month.

June 21 – Ways to Pay for Senior Care – 3:30 p.m. at Swanson Library 9101 W. Dodge Road

June 29 – Caregiver Burnout – 2:00 p.m. at Primrose Retirement Community 1801 E. Kanesville Blvd. Council Bluffs

Read on for more information about each workshop. Anchor

Ways to Pay for Senior Care

How much will your health affect your retirement savings? Almost 70 percent of Americans who reach 65 will be unable to care for themselves at some point without assistance.  Learn about the costs associated with senior care and what kinds of programs from insurance to government assistance to getting creative with your own money can ensure you receive the care you need.     Anchor

Caregiver Burnout

There are more than 34 million unpaid caregivers providing care to adults over the age of 18 who are ill or have a disability. This can be emotionally and physically taxing on those that provide care. In fact, in a survey given to family caregivers, over 50 % responded that they do not have time to take care of themselves and 49% said they were too tired to do so.  Caregiver burnout is real. Learn more about recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout and how you can take care of yourself while taking care of a loved one.

If you are looking for a loving, caring option for keeping your loved one at home or in the place they call home, call us, we’d like to help make a difference in your life. A Place at Home provides a range of at home services, as well as advocacy, care coordination, and senior community placement to seniors in communities around Omaha and Council Bluffs.