If you’re part of the growing population of adults who find themselves simultaneously raising children while caring for aging parents, you know how difficult it is to manage it all. From financial stress to emotional stress to time pressures, sometimes you may feel it’s impossible to balance everything! That’s why it’s important to prioritize self-care. This common metaphor describes the situation perfectly: If the airplane is going down and you don’t give yourself oxygen first, you won’t be able to help the people around you. Read on to learn what you can do to keep from experiencing caregiver burnout.
You’re busy running your kids and your aging parents to doctor’s appointments, but when was the last time you scheduled a yearly check-up for yourself? And remember that gym membership you bought for yourself last year? Use it! You know that exercise, along with good nutrition, increases your energy and helps keep you healthy, so skip the bowl of ice cream and the reality TV binge tonight and go out for a walk instead.
Speaking of ice cream, remember that self-care doesn’t equal lying on the couch with sweet treats and a glass of wine. While this may be all you want to do at the end of a busy day, it will only make you feel worse in the morning—so pick a healthy, yet relaxing activity instead. Read a chapter in that book you’ve been wanting to read, cuddle up with your spouse and kids, take some time for you favorite hobby, or turn in early for an extra hour of sleep.
It’s tempting to skimp on sleep when your to-do list grows longer every day, but if you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the energy for anything! Make sure to create healthy sleep habits to help you turn off and shut down: work to stay on a regular sleep schedule, don’t look at your phone within a few hours of bedtime, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed, don’t eat too close to bedtime, and avoid stressful activities in the evening. If you’re still having trouble, ask your doctor for help.
As the oxygen mask metaphor describes, making self-care a priority helps get you through your daily challenges. And you can also think about prioritizing in terms of your to-do list. What’s most important on the list? What can you let go of? Maybe you can put off cleaning the house until the weekend, in order to have time to meet a friend for that cup of coffee you keep rescheduling. And maybe you don’t need to send out holiday cards this year, so you can use the extra time to shop with your kids for that present they want to get for grandma.
Prioritize your financial well-being by paying off credit cards, contributing to your retirement account, and putting aside money in an emergency savings account. And think long-term—make sure you have an updated will and a plan for your own health expenses and concerns as you age. This will make your aging process easier on your own kids.
Remember that you don’t have to do this alone. Medical care and mental health professionals, senior living facilities, and centers such as 50 North are designed to help you shoulder the burden of caring for your aging parents—and for yourself! We make our activities and services available for those 50 years young and up, so bring your parents over for a class or social activity while you work out in our fitness center or enjoy lunch in our cafe.
50 North is here for you as you navigate this challenging, yet meaningful time of life.
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