this image shows the word health spelt out in different colours and being held up by hands

Caregiver Health

this image shows the word health spelt out in different colours and being held up by hands

Caregiver Health

As air stewards say “Fit your oxygen mask, before you fit someone else’s”. This is the same for caregiver health. You must look after yourself to care for someone else.

Are you one of 6m?

If you are a woman in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, chances are that you are either a caregiver to a loved one or you know someone who is. Over 6 million people in the U.K. currently provide some form or care or support for a family member according to CarersUK.

You are a Carer If:

You might not realise that you are a carer. You are a carer if you arrange appointments for someone or order their prescriptions. You are a carer if you provide meals or shop for someone. You are a carer if the person you live with is showing signs of dementia and you are concerned. Many people think they are not a carer if they are not providing full-time care.

You’re possibly struggling to manage a job, and care for your own family plus older family counterparts. It’s tough, I have been there! Caregiver health is often the last thing we consider. We simply don’t have the time.

Time for exercise.

You are probably on the go all the time so you have your own exercise routine in some respect. Finding time out to think and breathe, however, is also essential.

Experts recommend taking small pockets of time out for yourself. You probably can’t find long, but 10 minutes here or there to stand outside can help. Have a quick stroll around the garden or simply do some stretches on the doorstep and take some deep breaths in and out.

If you have to spend prolonged periods seated, consider swapping your chair for a yoga ball. Using your core muscles to balance helps reduce the risk of back weakness and in the long run, can help keep your pelvic muscles in better shape. Both guard against prolapse and incontinence issues in later life.

Early morning walk

I know, you’re exhausted and every last minute under the duvet counts but if you can drag yourself out for a brisk 10 minutes in the morning, it clears your head and sets you up for the day. A few precious minutes of “YOU time”.

Mind your back

While avoiding using your back is simply out of the question for many caregivers, there are important steps you can take to prevent muscle strain and tension. Patient transfer devices like these can make a huge difference in supporting your lower back and spine and making it safer to move your loved one. Reinforcing core and back muscles with exercise and stretching can also strengthen your movements and help you avoid injury.

Care for your emotional health

Caregiving certainly brings its share of stress and emotional wrangling. Whether it’s coping with your parent developing dementia or feeling guilty for spending less quality time with your children. Looking after your emotional health is key. You need to remind yourself you have a lot to deal with and are doing the best job you can.

Stress relief

Stress relief may come in the form of basic self-care tactics like prioritizing healthy eating and regular exercise, to more pampering-type things like taking warm baths, getting a massage, or using aromatherapy. If you live in the United States and want a special treat now and again, take the time out for a spa treatment by searching for a massage spa near me. You’ll feel so relaxed, and all of your worries are bound to just melt away!

Caregivers can combine emotional and physical exercise with mindfulness-cultivating practices like yoga and tai chi. Deep breathing, gentle stretching, strengthening poses, and mindful meditation can go a long way to helping caregivers de-stress and find peace.

Be Smart About You Are Eating

Caregivers often find themselves so busy taking care of their loved one (or their spouse, kids, work, etc) that the afternoon rolls around and all they’ve had to eat is half a bag of chips and three cups of coffee. Sound like you? Health is just as much what you put into your body as how much you work out.

Eating well doesn’t have to mean spending an hour cooking a gourmet lunch. Instead, stock your fridge and pantry with healthy, fast items that are good for you and make great meals. On the weekend, go ahead and pre-roast vegetables, cook ahead whole grains like brown rice and quinoa and chop up veggies. When it comes to weekday eating you’ll have a ton of great-tasting staples on hand for quickly assembling salads, sandwiches, wraps, omelettes, tacos, you name it!

Find Ways to Stay Fit at Home

So hitting the gym is out of the question and you can’t even think about finding time to go to a SoulCycle or yoga class. Don’t fret! Staying fit at home simply requires a little creativity and dedication. Do you work from home or spend time sitting taking care of your loved one (feeding them, etc)? Ditch the chair and get a stability ball to sit on instead. Not only does it help you practice better posture, but the bouncing and constant balance corrections help engage and work out key muscle groups.

Stream motivating instructional fitness and yoga videos, use apps like 7-minute Workout to get guidance about quick in-home high-intensity exercises you can do, or find a game system like Wii where you can play short spurts of fitness-inspired video games.

Final Thoughts

As a caregiver, the health of your care largely depends on your wellness and how you take care of yourself. With small, creative actions like practising regular self-care and finding short workouts to complete, you can not only feel healthier but potentially get more out of your caregiving role as well.


Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.