Photo by loli Clement on Unsplash

Fellow Daughter Sally Collins is a stay at home mom who lives in the Caribbean. She’s the primary caregiver for her mom who has colorectal cancer. Discover what Sally’s learned about the importance of caring for ourselves while caring for our loved ones. Thanks, Sally for sharing your heart and experience, and links to great resources!

Are you a daughter who just never seems to have enough time for you? You’re not alone. There are 66 million caregivers across the country and 20% of them report having fair or poor health within the first five years of taking on the role and it’s easy to see why. As a daughter taking on the role of caregiver, you’ve completely overhauled your life in order to provide care to your loved one. You cancel your own medical appointments to ensure your mom can get to hers and you shop for bread and milk for your father, but completely forget to pick up some for yourself. But should you be taking time out and having some ‘me’ time to stay happy and healthy?

Sleep Deprivation

One of the main issues caregivers report is sleep deprivation. Many daughters are waking early to get to their parent’s house to prepare them breakfast and assist them with getting washed and dressed. Following this, it’s a quick dash to work for a few hours before heading to the shops at lunchtime and back to make lunch. While afternoons and evenings are crammed with medical appointments, paperwork, dinner preparation, cleaning, trips out and preparing for bed.

Come the evening it’s difficult to switch off, knowing you need to do it all over again tomorrow. However, sleep is important and the damaging effects of sleep deprivation include hallucinations, failure to thrive, poor health and psychological issues. Therefore, it’s important to take time away from providing care, switch off from your responsibilities and ensure a good night’s sleep.

Poor Food Choices

There’s no time to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal, and many just grab snacks and easy to make foods such as chocolate bars, toast, and takeaways. Eating poorly can have a negative impact on a caregiver’s health as it can lead to poor nutrition, weight gain and its associated illnesses and lethargy. It’s important to stay healthy and eat as much fresh and healthy produce as possible, to ensure you’re fit, healthy and have the energy to meet your parents’ needs.

Failure to Exercise

Regular exercise is important to stay healthy and to maintain weight. It’s also beneficial as it releases feel-good hormones called endorphins which help make the brain and body feel good. Failing to exercise can you make feel sluggish, which is not the ideal way to feel when you’ve got care needs to meet. Be sure to take some time out from caring and fit in some form of exercise into your daily routine. Even a simple 10-minute walk can get your heart rate up and make you feel refreshed.

Not Looking After Your Own Health

If you’re feeling unwell, be sure to rest up and get better rather than plowing through the day, feeling rough. It’s also important you make and attend medical appointments to ensure you’re in good health to allow you to continue on as the daughter and caregiver you want to be to your parent. If it comes to the point where you’re just not well enough to provide a high level of care, adult day care can offer assistance. These are great places that give your loved one a break from their normal day and they allow you to rest up and get better.

Being a daughter and a caregiver is rewarding to both you and your parent, but don’t be afraid to put your own care needs at the forefront of your mind to ensure you stay fill and well.

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