Care for Caregivers

John Paul Ouvrier

John Paul Ouvrier

Many of you reading this are in the position of being a caregiver. Perhaps you are taking care of a spouse, or a friend, and you are now doing more and more for them and less and less for you. This article will offer some ideas to help you take care of you, which is probably the last thing on your list.

In addition to assisting older adults I work with on a daily basis, my father is bedridden, I know that as a caregiver, you have aches and pains that few understand. Fortunately, my spouse specializes in care for terminal patients. (She just released a book on the subject). The following are some quick tips on taking care of yourself and should be shared with others in your situation.
(Please email me if you have questions.)

First, let me encourage you to get help and assistance on a regular basis. And yes, before you give me your reasons for saying you can’t get help or accept help, my mother has already given me a thousand reasons why she won’t accept help either, and her son is the Wizard of Youth. So I understand why you may not be able to have assistance. Yet, please don’t try to do this job alone.

Here are some exercises based on average physical needs. Please use these ideas to recharge yourself, and not an excuse to work harder.

1. BREATHE

Sounds simple, but when we’re exhausted and under immense stress, we manipulate the breathing to control our emotions. Once this becomes a habit, we’re always tired because we don’t breathe properly! So breathe deeply during the day: My favorite- Yawn in, Sigh out! Yawn in and stretch up, and exhale like you’re letting go of the stress- and let some go!

 Three times a day: Five Yawn in/Sigh outs at a time, while sitting.

2. ROLL THE SHOULDERS AROUND

Caregivers have the tightest shoulders in the world. Perhaps because they carry the weight of the world around on their shoulders, and this causes all kinds of physical issues. Tight shoulders put the body into the wrong position, makes us feel old, cuts off our breathing, throws us off balance, and is very tiring. So relax your neck, then loosen up, and lift back up.

Three times a day: Roll the shoulders forward 10 times, and backward 10 times.

3. BEND THE LEGS AT THE KNEES to GET RE-GROUNDED

Another simple idea, yet important. Stress un-grounds us, and we end up locking our legs. This is not harmful unto itself, yet is a terrible thing for those of you with low back issues. And what this means is that every time you lean over to move a person in bed, change a diaper, cook a meal, slide someone up or down in a chair, get them out of the car, etc, you are putting your back at risk because your legs are not doing the work, you low back is. Bend those knees, and do so daily as a practiced exercise so that your muscles know what to do.

Three times a day: Standing tall, weight on the balls of the foot, sink up and down ten times by bending the knees 3 to 6 inches feeling the legs do the work and not your lower back.

One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver is learning to breathe, relax the shoulders, and get grounded again when dealing with another.

Years ago I worked with an older woman who would go walking with her dying husband. She would walk with him, bent over like him, and it hurt her. I suggested she take a walk by herself, so she could walk like herself, or she would lose the ability to help him. She did, and it worked out well. Please remember you are not a frog in hot water. Caregiving isn’t about mastering your ability to not care about you, it’s about giving care from a place of care. A few minutes to take care of you can save a life, and make life that is left, worth living.

Happy Holidays!

~Because you’re stronger than you think, you can do more than you know!~

John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults.  The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program. Contact John at John@wizardofyouth.com and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com & http://fitness4charity.org


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