If you are a military family caregiver you may feel your first responsibility is to see to the direct needs of your wounded service member. Caregivers often forget that in order to provide proper care to their loved one they must first care for themselves.
Caring scenario #1–on an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? As we know, the rule is to put on your oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Why is this? Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others–same with caregiving.
When your needs are taken care of, your wounded warrior will benefit, too. Consider the following basic tips for staying healthy and learning to ask for help.
It is the basic steps in staying healthy that can provide the greatest results in caregiver’s lives. Start by taking care of yourself first!
- Attend regular medical checkups.
- Take your medications.
- Eat healthy.
- Establish a regular routine.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest.
- Find ways to take breaks from caregiving.
- Look for humor in caregiving moments. It is important to be able to laugh, even when moments can be heartbreaking.
Asking for Help
You may feel alone in your caregiving duties, but know that you do not have to feel this way. Asking for help is not easy but may be the best way for you to stay healthy and continue giving care. Help others understand your needs by letting them know what they can do to help out and how often you want their assistance.
Be honest about what you can and cannot do. Think about everything you do each day. What tasks can other people do to ease your workload? Don’t wait any longer. Ask for help now!
What can others do to make your caregiving responsibilities easier?
- Run errands.
- Fix a meal.
- Provide child care.
- Do yard work.
- Drive wounded warrior to appointments.
Caregiving can be both challenging and satisfying. In order to continue to provide the care your wounded service member needs, know that you must first care for yourself. Remember to stay healthy and ask for help when needed. For more information on the emotional impact of caregiving and coping strategies check out the article, Caregiving 101 which offers information tailored to military family caregivers and their wounded service members.