Self Care Tips For New Caregivers: How To Focus On Your Own Needs

Photo via Pixabay by Sabinevanerp

Photo via Pixabay by Sabinevanerp

Working as a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs there is, and many people don’t get paid for it, as they’re simply taking care of a loved one who needs daily assistance. Not only is it physically taxing, it can also be mentally and emotionally exhausting, especially if the patient is someone you love. It’s never easy to watch a loved one suffer through pain or distress, but it can be difficult to focus on your own needs when your patient needs so much.

Making sure you are taking care of your mental health and physical well-being are essential to providing the best care.  It’s nearly impossible to be at your best for your patient when you’re tired or stressed. If you are in this state, you won’t be of much help to them no matter how hard you try. Think of ways you can reduce stress and anxiety at home and make self-care a priority; exercise daily, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and look for healthy habits that will keep you feeling good.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to focus on yourself when you’re a caregiver.

Reduce stress

Just about everyone has some form of stress in their lives, but some handle it better than others. Learning how to reduce stress — and how to cope with it when it comes along — will help boost your mood and your ability to face the difficult challenges that each day brings. You can start by getting organized; this will ensure that you’re not rushing in the mornings, especially if you have children. Getting a handle on your finances will also help, as will creating a budget.

Get good sleep

Exhaustion can be quick to set in when you’re taking care of someone else, so it’s imperative to get good quality sleep. This means creating a relaxing place to rest with light-blocking curtains and making sure the temperature is just right. Investing in the right bedding and mattress is also essential, especially if your caregiving job is hard on your back. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep, as well as the right quality, will help you stay on top of all your responsibilities with renewed stamina.

Eat well

The things you eat and drink can have a profound effect on the way you feel. Many people tend to gravitate toward comfort foods when they’re stressed or tired, so it’s important to keep healthy items around the house, including easy-to-grab snacks. Granola bars, yogurt, low-fat string cheese, nuts, and fruit are some of the best options. You can also prepare well-balanced meals ahead of time and heat them up when you’re ready for them. This will help you avoid the fast-food trap on nights when you’re tired or busy.

Make time for yourself

If you work long days and find that you don’t have much time to do the things you enjoy, it’s important to rearrange some things so you have some downtime. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day to read a book or watch your favorite television show, spending time doing something you really want to do will help you relax and boost your mental health at the same time. Consider getting up fifteen minutes earlier, or use your lunch break to take some time for meditation.

Caring for yourself when you’re in charge of taking care of someone else can be difficult to get used to, so it’s important to start small. Remember that your health and well-being affects your patient as well, because it’s hard to do a good job when you’re tired or stressed.

About the Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

Elder Fraud: How to Keep Your Family Safe

By: Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D.

Financial elder abuse is an epidemic in America, and today’s technology makes it easy for fraudsters to take their schemes global. Scammers can call or email from anywhere in the world, making it more difficult to trace the funds after a con artist disappears. According to reports, fraudsters take $37-billion every year from older adults in the United States.

Many scammers play on people’s drive for human connection. Whether the scams begin on social media, through telephone calls, from an email, or even in person, senior citizens are often in a position to be more vulnerable to fraudsters.

Elders don’t need to have experienced cognitive decline to be targeted. A recent loss, like a death in the family or a divorce, can make them more vulnerable. Odds of being scammed more than double during difficult life circumstances and those who are lonely or isolated may be more likely to fall for a romance scam or similar confidence trick.

People who are in a troubling financial situation, who are eager for a bargain, or enthusiastic about risk-taking can also be targeted for get-rich-quick schemes.

There are a number of different types of scams that target senior citizens. Health scams seek out seniors’ private Medicare information to submit false billing for reimbursement. Other medical scammers sell fake prescription drugs at cheap prices. This is a scam that can put seniors’ health and lives at immediate risk.

People who have lost a loved one are also targeted for funeral scams. Fraudsters call grieving people and claim that their loved one had a debt that must be paid. A variety of phone scams involve financial offers, investment opportunities, or claims of overdue taxes.

Many fraudsters take advantage of seniors who are less technically savvy or aware of social media norms. Internet schemes include romance scams over social media, fake anti-virus software used to extort money, or phishing schemes to gather online banking information.

Mortgage and investment schemes seek to divert seniors’ wealth to a con artist, while sweepstakes scams inform seniors that they have “won” prizes, but they must pay to receive their winnings. There is a multitude of schemes that target older Americans, and being aware of the wide range can help people avoid financial catastrophe.

As a caregiver, you may notice signs that something is wrong with your loved one’s finances. One common sign that a person has become a fraud victim is a sudden change in financial habits.

A frugal person may suddenly withdraw large sums of money but have little to show for it. An older adult with a healthy bank account may suddenly be running up debts or receiving collection calls. Others may suddenly discuss a new friend in their lives, often overseas and connected via social media.

Unfortunately, many victims experience fear and shame. They don’t want to admit to being victims, as they fear it will make them look incompetent. However, those understandable emotions can be a barrier to taking action to prosecute those responsible and potentially recover lost funds.

You can help the elders in your life avoid fraud. Open conversations about new friends or love interests can help shed light on potential scammers. Discuss social media use, as well as its pros and cons. In addition, advise loved ones to get a copy of their credit report each year to ensure accuracy.

Seniors can protect themselves by visiting financial advisors, lawyers, and their bank branch. Bank fraud personnel are trained to spot scams, so developing a trusting relationship with the local bank helps seniors protect themselves. Advise loved one to always request financial offers in writing and take time to consider before sending money, especially via untraceable methods like wire transfers or Western Union.

If you suspect that an elder in your life is a fraud victim, you can help by reaching out. A compassionate, non-judgmental approach can help to break the silence imposed by fear and shame. Loved ones can work together to support their family member and unravel the truth about a fraudster.

You can also take action by reporting the scheme to their bank; fraud departments are motivated to stop these schemes that cost banks millions. The authorities can also help. Adult Protective Services in your area is charged with protecting vulnerable adults. The local police also have a responsibility to investigate fraud, which is a serious criminal offense.

As a caregiver, your participation matters. In fact, your active involvement in a senior’s life helps fight fraud, because he/she will be less vulnerable to the emotional manipulation used in scams.


Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D., is a forensic neuropsychologist and one of the nation’s leading Dr. Stacey Woodexperts on financial elder abuse and fraud. She is the Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology at Scripps College and a licensed clinical psychologist in California. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of forensic neuropsychology and geropsychology, Dr. Wood has vast experience as an expert witness in California and nationwide.