Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter was a passionate advocate for caregivers. In 1987 she established the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers to promote the health, strength, and resilience of America’s family caregivers.
She once said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world — those that have been caregivers, those that are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
The Stats Surrounding Caregiving
Caregiving is a reality many of us have faced, are currently facing or will face at some point in life.
- Approximately 53 million Americans currently serve as a family caregiver to someone that is aging, ill or disabled. [Rosalyn Carter Institue for Caregivers. (2023)]
- About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
- About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]
For the 53 million caregivers in the United States, their caregiver responsibilities are piled on top of the many other individual tasks in one's day such as household chores family activities, errands and appointments. While caregiving is one of the most admirable things you can do for another individual, it can be mentally and physically draining.
It is so important for caregivers to take control of their help and make self-care a top priority. Caregivers owe it to themselves and the dear loved ones they are taking care of.
Here Are Some Self-Care Tips For You
1. Dedicate Time For You
As a caregiver, much of your time is spent taking care of your loved one, but you deserve time spent focusing on you too. Think of something you love to do and dedicate time each week or however often you can and do it. Whether you are comfortably sitting down and watching a new movie/reading a new book, heading to your favorite restaurant with a friend or browsing the aisles of your favorite store, you deserve time to do what makes you happy.
2. Keep Your Physical Health Top of Mind
As this new year starts, take time to think about your health goals for the year. Schedule your yearly physical and any recommended exams. Aim to fit in a few workouts each week, as it’s good for you mentally and physically. On top of that, make sure you are eating healthy, balanced meals to keep your immune system strong. And make it a priority to get the recommended 7-9 hours of nightly rest for caregivers.
3. Find a Support Group
A support group is a great way to connect with other caregivers that may be going through similar experiences as you. Support groups allow caregivers a place to share expertise, concerns or experiences in a safe, supportive environment. Here is a list of online support groups https://www.caringbridge.org/resources/caregiver-support-groups/. Our Covenant Care team may also be able to help you find additional groups and or resources in your area by dialing 1-855-CARE-365.
4. Remember, It’s Okay to Ask For Help
Never feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness. Asking for help is often a sign of strength. You are recognizing that at that moment, you need to fill your cup or take care of another need and that someone else is capable and willing to help your loved one! This is perfectly okay. Rely on the help and support of family and friends during these times. If possible, schedule a yearly trip or time away for you to focus on yourself for a few days. You will come back feeling refreshed and even more focused and your important job at hand.