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Caring for the caregiver - Healthy tips to relieve stress

Relieving stress as a caregiver could include maintaining or starting new activities such as gardening.
Relieving stress as a caregiver could include maintaining or starting new activities such as gardening.
Image by Clarice Cook

A balance must be achieved when caring for a loved one or client, especially those who are with the client for long hours.

Professionals who are responsible for caring for another life must be able to interact and take into consideration other family members and friends who are a vital part of the client's life. Family caregivers sometimes face adversity and misunderstandings within the sibling unit and decisions of job delegation. The main caregiver is barraged with finding providers and resources to help the loved one to achieve and maintain quality of life.

When taking care of someone twenty four seven, caregivers should find respite for self, a self health care program with regular exercise routine and resources for support.

Respite time is necessary to clear the mind.

Get a quiet time alone to read. Read to take you away from it all, not for adding more of the reality. Get out of the house, get some fresh air, change the scene, garden, fish, walk or just step out and look up at a starry night. Do whatever it takes to breathe in life. It will make for a better caregiver and better harmony.

Get away by accepting help from a neighbor, family member, friend, in home services or day care. Get rid of the guilt. Avoid burnout.

Sleep relief for the caregiver promotes better care.

Family caregivers who are taking care of Alzheimer’s or Vascular dementia patients know that there may be periods of time when the patient may wander or pace around the house. They may just be raiding the refrigerator or undoing the beds, etc., or they may be at risk of poisoning, overdosing or falling. If possible, find someone to be on duty for at least half of the night. Sleep deprivation is a number one reason for caregiver burnout.

Nutritional health builds a healthy nervous system

The old four food group health education that was a big part of school curriculum in the past has gone by the wayside. There are too many caregivers who grab the easiest thing to eat for themselves between steps of running chores and taking care of the patient.

It is imperative that each meal contains a protein, a fruit, a vegetable and calcium. Pay close attention to any allergies and choose forms of food that can be tolerated.

Take time to chew food thoroughly. The eat and run routine can cause digestive problems that can lead to stomach, gall bladder and colon problems. Use the time to eat to let go of stress.

Talk to a doctor or dietician to determine your BMI, (basal mass index) to learn how much of the body is fat and BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), determines how many calories are being consumed and how many should be consumed to get to or maintain the ideal weight for your height.

Hide the salt shaker in the cupboard. Too much salt can lead to water retention. Watch cholesterol content on packages and avoid red meat, fried foods and rich desserts. Include fiber in the diet, maintain a healthy weight and keep caffeine and sweets low to keep the nerves steady. Watch out for mindless eating. Be aware of what you consume.

Soothing exercise relax and strengthens muscles

Add relaxing exercise by Tai Chi, Yoga or other relaxing exercise can nourish your brain. Comstock Community Center offers classes by Ed Kehoe, who is certified and experienced.

A simple ten minute stretch throughout the day can revitalize the muscles and relieve tension. If it is not possible to get away to a gym on a regular basis, to a local pool or for any other timed program, try to find a time when you can walk with the patient, either by pushing a wheelchair or walking through the house or outside along garden paths or in the neighborhood.

Humor relief releases endorphins that relieves stress.

Laugh, Laugh, Laugh. Go to a comedy show, watch funny videos or TV shows, read the jokes in Readers Digest. Go out to a funny movie at the local theater. Laughter heals.

Social interaction keeps self esteem in balance.

Renew old friendships, maintain existing friendships, make new friends. A good way to get the social network going to by joining a support group or going to an exercise of dance class, a bridge game, a reading group. Remember who you are and what you like and make that time to get out of reality and enjoy life.

Activities is essential to brain health.

Maintain hobbies or start new ones. Even if you only have thirty minutes, make that time in the schedule to knit, crochet, read, sleep, train or run with the dog or whatever makes you happy and unwinds the nerves.

Spend a little on yourself. Buy a new piece of jewelry, a new outfit, go out to dinner, go to a concert, buy that new I-pad, or go on a bus ride. Spend a little on in home care and get away.

Community and senior centers offer social, activity, exercise and laughter relief in many ways.

Community organizations are centralized to reach out to all family and community members.

Senior travel: How about a shopping excursion, a trip to a casino, a comedy show, a color tour, a trip to a zoo or a natural wonder. Exercise: Tai Chi, dance, yoga, anyone.

Brain Game Fun: At Comstock Township Community Center, Suzanne Grenaat, a 35 year teacher, offers fun while training the brain.

Support Group: Ask about joining a Dynamic Caregiving Team support group. Call Clarice at Memory Path Care Solutions, 269-254-9547 or email: or visit

Taking care of the patient means taking care of self. If the caregiver is stressed and unhealthy in mind or body, the patient’s welfare will also be insufficient. The help is out there. Don’t be isolated. Take advantage of what your community offers.

Comstock Community Center
6330 King Highway
P O Box 34
Comstock MI 49041
Phone 269 345-8556
Fax 269 345-9486


Comstock Community Center


Care for the Family Caregiver



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