What family carers and paid workers can do to stay healthy and happy.
- If you’re caring for a family member, hold regular meetings with siblings and others involved in the equation to ensure the load is shared among you and keep the lines of communication open. Play to each other’s strengths: who has the gift of the gab and can always get your loved one laughing? Who has solid research or organisational skills? Who’s particularly good when it comes to financial matters? Mycare’s Support Circle feature can help keep everyone up with the play, too; log in to find out more.
- Whether you’re a family carer or a paid care worker, you must make your own self-care a priority. Eating nutritious meals is non-negotiable when it comes to good health, so aim to cook fresh food from scratch; make extra and freeze the leftovers for when you need them. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep by using meditation or breathing exercises to help you learn to relax, unwinding at least an hour before bed and making your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Exercise is also essential, so do what you need to do squeeze in 15 minutes a day. Mycare can help, with workers available to offer in-home respite care.
- When you’re focussing all your energy on meeting someone else’s needs, you can very quickly lose sight of your own. Make sure you do something nice for yourself from time to time, just for the joy and fun of it. Check out Carers NZ’s guide to taking time out.
- Read ‘Back in business’ for advice on looking after your spine.
- Long-term caring can be a lonely task, so it’s so important to stay in touch with your own support network. Talking to a friend can sometimes be the best medicine; scheduling a weekly coffee date or walk might make all the difference.
- Know when to ask for help. Often friends want to assist but aren’t sure how to do so long-term. Suggest that it could be as simple as mowing the lawn fortnightly or doing some grocery shopping, running an errand, sitting with your loved one for an hour so you can pop out, dropping off a home-cooked meal, or just keeping in touch.
- If something isn’t working, say so. Struggling along with the status quo can be unsafe physically and mentally for both you and the person you’re supporting. If you feel your needs aren’t being adequately met, you might like to speak to a health services advocate who can support you to make a change. Visit Health and Disability Advocacy.
- Carers can be at risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders, and feelings of guilt and resentment are common too. Acknowledge your emotions – don’t bottle them up. Be honest about your mental health and seek professional help if needed, starting with a visit to your GP. Visit Depression.org.nz
Mycare connects people who need help with available workers in their area. To find out more, log in to the website, call our Customer Engagement Team on 0800 677 700, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.