If you want to live comfortably during your mid-life years (ages 45-60), you need a game plan that puts your ideal life into motion. Most people in this age group often find themselves in the role of family caregiver, a role that can add unexpected stress and caregiver role strain to your life.
I was 50 years old when my parents needed help. My personal experience with caregiving taught me a lot about growing older. But most importantly, it taught me how I would prefer NOT to age. Hopefully, it will work out as well for you too.
A family member’s identity becomes wrapped up in the role and demands of caregiving duties. Here’s what the day-to-day might look like for you as you became the primary caregiver for your aging parent or loved one. Read this and see what feels most familiar to you.
- Work productivity, on-the-job focus, and career advancement may suffer.
- Financial upset can occur, putting strain on the savings for care-related bills.
- Caregivers experience physical and emotional burdens that create detrimental effects on their body and mental health.
- Social connections and friends can be strained. Giving care takes so much effort and time, and primary caregivers often withdraw from their community, leading to depression, loneliness and isolation.
- Accept yourself – Low self-esteem and confidence are common today. Realize that beauty is not defined by physical traits but by qualities. The act of accepting oneself as they are seems hard but you can do it! Do not allow your perceived flaws to govern your heart and future. Instead, embrace and accept them.
- Surround yourself with positive people – Hang out with friends and family who feed your soul, the ones who you appreciate and look up to. Make sure they feel the same way about you. Socialize with them. A support team of positive people gives us a sense of well-being. Reduce or prevent caregiver role strain by letting go of relationships that no longer serve you.
- Do the things and activities you love – Make time for self-care and do the things that make you happy. Find a hobby like cooking, gardening, painting or reading. This helps you feel connected and less stressed.
- Don’t neglect your physical well-being – Feed your body what it needs by eating healthy meals filled with vitamins and nutrients. Drink plenty of water. Take a brisk walk every now and then.
- Express feelings – Talk about your feelings with someone you like and trust. Don’t bottle up your feelings inside. Communicating helps us process our emotions and move on with a clearer and happier mind. If you prefer, keep a journal and write your feelings down. I keep one and it helps me feel lighter and less burdened with heavy thoughts.
- Appreciate little things – If you give too much energy to the “big” problems, your levels of stress will increase, and you’ll ignore the little things that make living so pleasurable. Make every experience a learning experience, even failures. Both failures and successes are important.
Live each day knowing there’s plenty of joy to go around. Above all, believe in yourself, trust yourself, and continue caring for yourself. Focus on what you can do right now to be your best self instead of correcting the past.
Carol Marak, founder, the Elder Orphan Facebook Group, and the Mid-Life Guide at CarolMarak.com.