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Caring for Mental Health as a Caregiver: Strategies for Mental Wellness

At The Kensington Falls Church, we recognize that caregiving is more than just attending to the essential needs of our seniors.

It’s a heartfelt commitment to enriching their lives, infusing each day with joy, and nurturing a sense of purpose.

As summer ends, we will wrap up with the last two events of our series “Ready. Set. Summer! Kensington Caregiver Support Series.”

Continue reading to learn more about our community and our five-part virtual workshop.

Looking back and moving forward

Throughout our first three workshops, we discussed creative and effective communication strategies, how to connect with your loved one through music, and how to promote cognitive health using art therapy.

This event, Caregiver Mental Fitness, was held on August 16 at 6 p.m.

During Part IV of our workshop, you’ll hear from Braden Bishop, caregiver advocate, and former major league baseball player.

His experience on the field has taught him the value of teamwork, commitment, and focus, qualities that he seamlessly translates into his advocacy for caregivers.

Braden Bishop, supported by his family, cared for his mother, Suzy, during her fight against early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Motivated by this experience, he established the 4MOM foundation to promote Alzheimer’s research, awareness, and support for affected families.

Self-care methods and organizational tips for mental health

Caregiver mental fitness is critical to providing quality care to loved ones, yet it’s often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of daily responsibilities. Caregiving demands physical and emotional energy and the ability to manage stress and stay organized. 

This devotion can lead to overwhelming burnout if self-care is neglected.

Understanding how to balance caregiver duties with personal wellness is essential for long-term success and fulfillment in this demanding role. Stay on track with the following tips.

Recognize the signs of stress

Symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Overwhelming feelings
  • Resentment

Some of these feelings are normal for caregivers. But if they are negatively impacting your life, it might be time to slow down and ask for help.

Implement stress-reduction techniques

Once you recognize the need to relax, consider activities that help to reduce stress and improve your mental health. Mindfulness, meditation, regular exercise, or even taking time for hobbies can be powerful stress reducers.

  • Develop a routine: Having a well-structured daily routine can alleviate unnecessary stress.
  • Utilize respite care services: Don’t hesitate to seek temporary relief from professional respite care services when needed.
  • Mindfulness practices: Engaging in mindfulness or meditation practices can help keep stress at bay.
  • Keep a journal: Writing about your daily experiences can be therapeutic and provides a means of reflection.

Create a support system

Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family or support groups. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others can provide emotional relief.

At The Kensington Falls Church, we understand that caring for a loved one can be both rewarding and challenging. We invite you to join us at our next Monthly Caregiver Connect Support Group meeting.

Stay organized

Keeping track of appointments, medications, and daily care tasks is vital. Use tools like calendars, planners, apps or checklists to manage your caregiving responsibilities effectively.

  • Utilize technology: Several apps are designed to help caregivers stay organized with appointments, medication, and other essential tasks.
  • Maintain clear communication: Regular updates and open communication with other family members and healthcare professionals are crucial.
  • Create checklists: Having daily, weekly, or monthly checklists can make managing duties more manageable and less overwhelming.
  • Delegate when possible: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family members or professional services. Delegating tasks can lighten the load significantly.

Consider professional help if needed

Professional counseling or respite care services may be beneficial if stress becomes unmanageable.

Transitioning your loved one to a senior living community that offers assisted living and memory care services may also be the best option for you and your loved one’s mental health and well-being.

Focus on self-care

Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish but essential. Regularly schedule time for self-care activities that rejuvenate your mental health and body.

  • Create personal time: Scheduling regular ‘me time’ is essential. Personal time rejuvenates the mind and body, whether it’s a hobby, meditation, or simply a walk in the park.
  • Focus on nutrition and exercise: A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Regular exercise and balanced nutrition can significantly enhance mental fitness.
  • Seek professional support if needed: Professional counseling or joining caregiver support groups can make a difference. Sharing feelings and challenges with others who understand can be incredibly healing.

Align with your loved one

Communicate openly with the person you care for to understand their needs and preferences. This alignment can lead to a more satisfying caregiving experience for both of you.

Caregiving requires a delicate balance between caring for others and caring for oneself.

By recognizing stress signals, employing stress-reduction techniques, staying organized, and focusing on self-care, it is our hope that caregivers can foster a fulfilling and sustainable caregiving experience.

Identifying symptoms of caregiver burnout

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need or if they try to do more than they are able, whether physically or financially.

Common signs to watch for include:

  • Physical symptoms
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Frequent headaches or body aches
    • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Emotional symptoms
    • Increased stress and anxiety
    • Depression or feelings of hopelessness
    • Irritability or anger
    • Feeling overwhelmed or trapped
  • Behavioral symptoms
    • Withdrawal from social activities or friends
    • Neglecting personal needs and responsibilities
    • Reduced patience and increased frustration
  • Cognitive symptoms
    • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
    • Feelings of resentment
  • Work and relationship struggles
    • Issues at work
    • Strained personal relationships

Caregiver burnout is a real and serious issue that can have lasting effects on both the caregiver and the care recipient.

It’s essential to recognize these signs early and take action. Seeking support from friends, family, support groups, or a senior living community can be incredibly beneficial.

The right time for change

Deciding to transition a loved one to a community setting can be one of a caregiver’s most challenging choices.

However, if your loved one’s needs have become too complex or demanding for you to manage at home, it may be time to consider a community setting.

You should also consider if the home environment is unsafe for your loved one due to mobility issues or cognitive decline.

Even if your loved one is not struggling with mobility issues, they may be at risk for social isolation. They may benefit from more social engagement and life-enrichment activities in a compassionate senior community such as The Kensington Falls Church.

To help alleviate guilt, recognize that transitioning your loved one to a community setting can be the most loving decision, and ensures that your loved one receives the best possible support.

The benefits of a community setting

  • Professional care and safety: Community settings often have skilled staff and safety measures to ensure optimal care.
  • Social opportunities: These settings often provide various social and recreational activities that enhance the quality of life.
  • Family quality time: With professional care in place, family visits can become more relaxed and enjoyable, focusing on quality time rather than caregiving duties.
  • Respite for caregivers: Moving a loved one to a community setting allows caregivers to rest and rejuvenate, reducing the risk of burnout.

Connect with The Kensington Falls Church for guidance and mental health support for caregivers

The Kensington Falls Church is an assisted living and memory care community offering various care levels.

The Connections neighborhood provides intimate, home-like living spaces to foster calm and comfort for those with early-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Our Haven neighborhood is a soothing and peaceful neighborhood for residents with the middle-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia and is designed for residents who are showing more advanced signs of memory loss.

Our community has been designed to offer our residents a supportive and engaging environment, with amenities such as dining services, recreational activities, medical support, and physical therapy.

Our empathetic and supportive team focuses on providing personalized care tailored to each resident’s individual needs and preferences.

These amenities and services help our team maintain Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own.

Contact us or check out our blog to learn more about our communities, high-acuity care, specialized memory programs for Alzheimer’s and dementia, upcoming events, and caregiver resources.

We’re ready to be a shoulder to lean on for caregivers in need of mental health guidance.

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