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caregiver support

Caring from Within: Strategies to Improve Caregiver Mental Fitness

At Kensington Park Senior Living, caregiving is a journey filled with love, understanding and devotion.

To us, it is more than simply meeting the basic requirements of our cherished seniors. It is a wholehearted commitment to enhancing their lives, filling each day with joy, warmth, and a profound sense of purpose.

As we gently bid farewell to summer, we conclude with the final two events of our heartfelt series, “Ready. Set. Summer! Kensington Caregiver Support Series.

These workshops, filled with compassion and insights, have been designed for you, the dedicated caregivers, and your mental health in mind.

We warmly invite you to discover more about our nurturing community and our thoughtful five-part virtual workshop. Let’s continue this journey together, foster connections, creativity, and care.

Reflecting on past events

During our initial three workshops, we delved into the art of creative and effective communication, explored the power of connecting with your loved one through the harmony of music, and uncovered ways to stimulate cognitive health using the beauty of art therapy.

The fourth part of our enlightening workshop series, “Caregiver Mental Fitness,” featured the inspiring Braden Bishop, a former major league baseball player, and passionate caregiving advocate.

Braden’s experiences on the baseball field have shaped his understanding of teamwork, dedication and focus.

He weaves these valuable lessons into his advocacy for caregivers, creating a compassionate and motivating dialogue.

Braden Bishop, along with his father and brother, experienced the emotional and logistical challenges of caring for his mother, Suzy, as she battled early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Their personal journey with the disease inspired Braden to raise awareness and advocate for Alzheimer’s research, leading to the creation of the 4MOM foundation.

The foundation aims to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research and support for families affected by the disease.

Manage stress and stay on track

Caregiving is a rewarding but often challenging journey. It demands physical and emotional energy and the ability to manage stress and stay organized.

Caregivers can navigate these challenges and stay on track with the following tips.

Recognize the signs of stress

Symptoms might include fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches, body aches, overwhelming feelings and 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 have recognized 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.

Create a support system

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

At Kensington Park, we understand that caring for a loved one can be both rewarding and challenging. That’s why we proudly host our Monthly Caregiver Connect Support Group, led by Leslie Mason, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (MSW, LICSW, LCSW-C).

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.

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.

Examples of self-care may include:

  • Exercise
  • Eating healthy
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, or reading
  • Doing a hobby you enjoy
  • A lunch date with a friend or spouse

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.

Spotting the signs of caregiver burnout

Spotting the signs of caregiver burnout is crucial to maintaining the well-being and mental health of the caregiver and the person receiving care.

Burnout can lead to decreased quality of care, health problems, and emotional distress.

Warning signs of burnout include:

  • Physical exhaustion
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Frequent illnesses
    • Unexplained headaches and body aches
  • Emotional symptoms
    • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
    • Increased irritability or impatience
    • Anxiety or depression
  • Behavioral changes
    • Withdrawal from friends and family
    • Neglect of personal needs or hobbies
    • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Decreased quality of care
    • Reduced attention to the care a loved one needs
    • Resentment toward loved one
    • Inability to provide affection and empathy
  • Cognitive issues
    • Trouble with concentration or decision-making
    • Forgetfulness or confusion

Preventing caregiver burnout

Tips to prevent caregiver burnout include:

  • Setting realistic goals: Break large tasks into smaller, manageable ones. Accept that you may need help.
  • Seeking support: Utilize family, friends, community resources or professional mental health services.
  • Maintain personal interests: Pursue hobbies or interests outside caregiving.
  • Self-care: While you may experience caregiver guilt when considering doing something for yourself, regular breaks and self-care are not selfish but vital for your well-being and your loved one’s quality of life.
  • Take care of your health: Eat well, sleep enough and exercise regularly.
  • Communicate openly: Express feelings, needs, and concerns with friends and family.

Addressing caregiver burnout

Take immediate action if you recognize burnout by seeking help and making changes.

Professional care can give you a necessary break, allowing you respite from the daily caregiving responsibilities. This break is more than just a pause; it is essential to maintaining your well-being as a caregiver.

Regular breaks can prevent caregiver burnout, preserving your mental and emotional well-being, and knowing your loved one is in capable hands can alleviate anxiety and stress.

Embracing community care

Community care involves engaging with various community resources and services that support the senior needing care and the entire family or support system.

At Kensington Park, we offer our residents a sense of belonging and connection, as well as professional services like counseling, rehabilitation, and medical care.

These services can enhance the quality of care provided to your loved one and their quality of life.

Embracing community care is more than accessing services; it’s about becoming part of a compassionate family that recognizes the shared human experience of caregiving.

Your care is our priority: Contact Kensington Park for comprehensive support and resources

Kensington Park is an independent living, assisted living, and memory care community with specialized programs that help our residents truly age in place.

Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own. This Promise goes beyond providing basic needs and extends to creating a warm, nurturing environment where every individual feels valued, understood, and supported.

Contact us or check out our blog to learn more about our community, amenities, memory care services, upcoming events, and caregiver resources.

We’re here for you and ready to listen.

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