Caring for Yourself

Caring for yourself

Staying healthy

Taking care of yourself means you can better care for your loved one.

When you're busy caring for someone else, it's easy to brush aside your own health and personal needs. Doing so can compromise your mind, health, and well-being, and put you at risk of developing health problems.

It's not always easy, but making the time to care for yourself is important. Keeping up on doctor's appointments, social events, health, and hobbies creates a positive impact on your life.

Explore the resources from Humana to see how you can live a healthier life and be better equipped to meet your own needs and the needs of the person you're caring for.

Caring for your physical well-being

As a caregiver, you are more at risk of poor physical health. If you're so focused on caring for your loved one that you begin to neglect your own health, it's time to make some changes. Taking care of yourself can help you feel great, boost your energy, elevate your mood, help you sleep better, and keep you healthy.

Small steps can make a big impact on your diet and nutrition. Here are some simple ways you can eat healthy:

  • Control your portion size — try using smaller-size dishes
  • Eat slower — it will give your body time to digest and you'll feel fuller faster
  • Eat a well-balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, spinach, berries, and nuts
  • Drink plenty of water — it will keep you feeling fuller throughout the day
  • Don't skip on meals — it can lead to out-of-control hunger and overeating

As a caregiver, you may not have extra time for a workout, but incorporating exercise into your daily routine may be easier than you think.

  • Simple things like household chores or gardening increase your physical activity.
  • When going out, consider biking instead of driving, or take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.
  • If the care recipient is physically able, find an activity you can do together, such as walking, swimming, dancing, or tennis.
  • Remember to schedule your own medical checkups and preventative screenings. Check out the Preventative Screenings list in the Caregiver's Toolkit to find out what screenings you may need and how often.
  • Don't forget to maintain your own medication routine to help keep any of your own conditions under control.
  • Following proper lifting techniques can help prevent injuries, especially to your back and shoulders.

Discover more advice on how to keep yourself and your loved one healthy in our Caregiver's Toolkit. The toolkit also includes advice on managing the day-to-day caregiving routine, and resources such as worksheets and calendars to help you stay organized. Download a free copy - Caregiver's Toolkit - English (2.68 Mb).

Caring for your mental and emotional well-being

Caregiving and stress seem to go hand-in-hand. As a caregiver, you might be pushed to the limits of what you can handle both physically and emotionally. Dealing with that pressure can take a toll. It's natural for caregivers to experience a mixture of emotions including feeling overwhelmed, guilty, sad, lonely, and even angry.

Some level of stress is normal, but chronic stress can cause burnout, which may contribute to feelings of resentment toward the person you're caring for. It can also lead to a more serious mental disorder called depression.

When the stress is getting to you, be sure to remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. Give yourself credit for all the support you've been giving to your loved one in need, and realize that you may need some support too, in order to balance your overall health with the demands of being a caregiver. Having emotional support can help you manage the challenges of caregiving, including maintaining your own well-being.

Let friends, family, your doctor, or clergy know if you are feeling stressed and need someone to talk to about it. Sometimes, just venting your frustrations out loud can bring some relief.

Connecting with other caregivers is another great way to help lower stress and meet your emotional needs. After all, who knows better how to tackle caregiving challenges than those who have been through the same things? Doctors, hospitals, newspaper community calendars, or agencies on aging may be great sources to help you locate a local support group. There are also many ways to connect with other caregivers online via social networks.

One of the most valuable things you can do as a caregiver is to take care of yourself so you’ll be at your best when caring for your loved one. Be sure to get the mental and emotional support you need to help avoid caregiver burnout and help you feel ready to face the challenges ahead.

Finding help

With the demands of caregiving, finding time for yourself can be a challenge. It's okay to admit that you can't do it at all!

Ask trusted family and friends to pitch in. They might be able to help you with everyday tasks such as:

  • Running errands
  • Cooking a hot meal
  • Grocery shopping
  • Paying bills
  • Cleaning the house
  • Doing some laundry
  • Taking over for a few hours so you can get away to recharge

There may be additional support services in your local community as well. Check into outside services for meal delivery, transportation, adult day care and respite care, home health aides, and skilled nursing. Governmental agencies, local hospitals, churches, and local chapters of disease groups (like the American Cancer Society) may be able to help you find the resources you need.

Check checkups off your list

Make sure you’re getting the recommended health screenings for women your age.

Find out more about health screenings for women (opens in new window) 

RightSource User?

If you are a RightSource user, you can refill prescriptions and make payments online - even from your smartphone with the RightSource mobile app!

Learn more

Add more color to your diet

Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables gives you important nutrients like vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium.

Healthy Living