The importance of self-care for family caregivers

The importance of self-care for family caregivers

As a family caregiver, it is easy to get caught up in the health of the person you are caring for and forget about your own health.

It is important that you maintain your own health, both for your own wellbeing and that of the person in your care.

However, it is important that you maintain your own health, both for your own wellbeing and that of the person in your care.

Take a moment to think about the last time you were in a medical office waiting to see a health care professional for an assessment of your health, not the health of the person in your care.

  • When was the last time you had a colonoscopy?
  • Are you due for a pelvic exam?
  • Have you had your annual mammogram?
  • Are you in need of blood work to monitor an existing condition?
  • What about that prescription you need refilled?

You may want to contact your health care professional’s office and inquire about whether you are due for any routine testing or exams. Perhaps even booking an appointment to discuss your current health status is a better idea if it has been a while since your last visit. If you have any existing medical conditions that need monitoring and managing such as diabetes or heart disease you should especially consider making an appointment for a health assessment.

Have you experienced more frequent symptoms for a previously diagnosed medical condition such as chronic pain, thyroid dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, or anxiety?

Have you stopped following specific dietary recommendations to manage a condition such as high cholesterol or diverticulitis?

Remember that making the appointment is only half of the task. Attending the appointment and being an active member of the visit is the other half. You may want to bring a notebook to make notes about what is discussed at the visit. As part of your self-care plan, it is a good idea to keep upcoming appointments in a calendar or planner that you continue to fill in and refer to.

If it has been a long time since your last visit, you may also want to ask the health care professional for a copy of your previous test results so that you can keep track of when your own routine testing is due to be done.

These may be things that you already do for the person in your care at their medical appointments but they can also be applied to your own appointments.

If you do not have a health care professional that you see regularly, consider visiting www.211.ca to search for a variety of services in your area including health care, LGBTQ+ programs, housing and many others. You can also ask local friends and family if they can suggest a family doctor or a nurse practitioner. Consider calling or visiting the office to inquire about whether they are accepting new patients. Some clinics also offer “walk-in” services for individuals who are not registered as patients. If you are in need of immediate medical attention please call 9-1-1 or report to your nearest emergency room.

Although our Elizz article entitled Getting Organized: Health and Medical Information was designed to help you become a better advocate for the person in your care, it can also assist you to organize your own health and medical information.

Consider this a gentle reminder from your friends at Elizz to make your own health a priority!

You might also like our Elizz article entitled Advocating for Yourself As A Family Caregiver.

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.

 

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