By presidential proclamation, November is National Family Caregivers Month. It is a time for us to reflect on all the hard work, devotion and love that caregivers, both paid and unpaid, provide to many in need.

The theme for the month is “Take Care to Give Care.” Millions of family caregivers are spending countless hours caring for their loved ones either part time or full time.

But many are not properly caring for themselves. Giving care to someone can be both physically and emotionally demanding.

The Caregiver Action Network has put together some suggestions to help caregivers cope with these physical and emotional demands to help the caregiving process be more rewarding.

  • Caregiving can be a stressful job. Most family caregivers say they feel stressed providing care for a loved one. With all of their caregiving responsibilities – from managing medications to arranging doctor appointments to planning meals – caregivers too often put themselves last.

The stress of caregiving impacts your own health. One out of five caregivers admit they have sacrificed their own physical health while caring for a loved one.

Due to stress, family caregivers have a disproportionate number of health and emotional problems. They are twice as likely to suffer depression and are at increased risk for many other chronic conditions.

  • Proper nutrition helps promote good health. Ensuring that you are getting proper nutrition is key to help maintain your strength, energy and stamina, as well as strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the most powerful things you can do to take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude overall.
  • Ensuring good nutrition for your loved one helps make care easier. As many as half of all older adults are at risk for malnutrition. Good nutrition can help maintain muscle health, support recovery, and reduce risk for re-hospitalization – which may help make your care of a loved one easier.
  • Remember: “Rest. Recharge. Respite.” People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ higher risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks can be a lot costlier than some time away to recharge.

The chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize, is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you are today. Ask for help from a licensed in-home care company. Take that break!

During National Family Caregivers Month, we remind family caregivers that to be strong enough to care for your loved one, you must “Take Care to Give Care.”

James Wogsland, Certified Senior Adviser, is the owner of ComForCare Home Care. JWogsland@ComForCare.com; www.HiltonHead.ComForCare.com