Being a caregiver may give you a sense of purpose and brings you even closer to your loved one. However, caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves means your own health may be taking a back seat. It’s easy to think “my loved one needs me more, my issue can wait,” but remember in order to give your loved ones the level of care they deserve; you have to be at your best. Fortunately, there are ways for you to simultaneously care for your loved one and yourself. With these tips, you’ll get access to important resources, alleviate some of the stress that comes with being a caregiver, and begin to prioritize your own health and wellness as a caregiver.
The importance of health, wellness, and self-care
Caregivers spend so much of their time caring for others that they can easily forget to take care of themselves. In fact, according to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, Black caregivers are often unmarried, report poorer health, and frequently have to balance caregiving with full-time jobs.1
While you are responsible for another life, you shouldn’t forget that you are still responsible for your own. Finding time to engage in simple acts of self-care can make all the difference in both your mental and physical health. Taking advantage of programs that can help ease some of your responsibilities will also allow you to make more time for yourself to exercise, go on a date, do something you enjoy, or simply relax.
Your life is just as important as the life you’re caring for and should not be placed on the back burner. After all, if you neglect your own health, how can possibly care for someone else’s.
How to prioritize your health and wellness as a caregiver
1. Decide what’s important.
Instead of worrying about everything, try tackling the most important things first. Prioritizing what is important will help you get control so that you can strategically focus on the major issues that need your attention.
2. Identify what can be changed and what can’t be changed.
Even as a caregiver, there will be things that are out of your control. Trying to change things you have no control over will only increase your frustration. Instead, focus on what you can control, work to change what you can change – always remember to prioritize your health in between.
3. Understand your stress triggers.
Knowing your stress triggers can serve as a warning sign that it’s time to slow down and take a break. Dark circles under your eyes, forgetfulness or constant irritability are all signs to be aware of. Once you recognize the warning signs, find healthy ways to reduce your stress. Exercising, gardening, meditation, or having coffee with a friend may be effective ways to help relieve some of your stress.
4. Go easy on yourself.
Caregiving is hard work, but you shouldn’t allow yourself to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. If you start to feel guilty, think about the personal sacrifices you are making for the well-being of your loved one. Those aren’t sacrifices a selfish person would make.
Resources for caregivers
Whether it’s for you or a loved one, worrying about how to pay for medication, can be very stressful. Luckily there are a variety of savings programs, such as Walgreens Prescription Savings Club, that can help you find ways to make your medication more affordable.
Take advantage of apps
There are several apps available that can make managing your health a much quicker and smoother process. For example, the free Walgreens mobile app (available in the App Store and Google Play)* helps you manage the medication for you or your loved one with worry-free reminders. It also has the ability to track your prescription in real-time & make any updates directly in the app. New insurance? No problem! Snap a picture in the app to update your information.
Simplifying your life is crucial for caregivers. Whether you are managing a complex, chronic, or rare condition or are a caregiver to someone that is, Walgreens Pharmacists are trained to assist you with your questions or concerns on topics such as diabetes, heart disease, pain, vitamins, smoking cessation, etc, either in-store or online with 24/7 pharmacy chat.
Walgreens also offers specialty pharmacies to assist individuals with highly specialized health conditions, such as oncology, infertility, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.
Whether these tips help you manage a health condition of your own or take some of the stress that comes with being a caregiver off your plate by helping you efficiently care for a loved one, we hope you see that you are much more than a caregiver and the importance of giving yourself the same level of care that you give the person you are caring for.
*This discount medical plan is NOT insurance. Membership fee required ($20 individual or $35 family per year) and must be paid at a participating Walgreens or Duane Reade store located in the United States excluding stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Washington (each a “Provider”). Program offers Members the right to purchase specified healthcare items or services from Providers at a discounted rate. Amount of the discount may vary based on type of item/service Member purchases, but Providers will not charge the Member more than the discounted rate. Program participants can save up to 80% off cash retail prices for prescriptions purchased from participating Walgreens stores. Actual savings may vary. Cannot be combined with any form of insurance other pharmacy benefit programs. The Program does not make any payments to Providers. Member is entirely responsible for paying discounted price to the Provider at time of service. Membership may be canceled within 30 days of the enrollment effective date for a full refund. To request: (i) a list of participating Providers (name, city, state) and/or (ii) the full terms and conditions of the Program before joining, call 866-922-7312 or visit Terms and Conditions. WAGDCO, LLC, 104 Wilmot Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015. Prescription Savings Club is a discount medical plan organization regulated by State Insurance Commissioners. The Program is not a Medicare Prescription drug plan.
*Data Rates May Apply
- AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020. Washington, DC: AARP. May 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00103.001
- AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. The “Typical” African American Caregiver 2020. Washington, DC: AARP. May 2020. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2020/05/african-american-caregiver.doi.10.26419-2Fppi.00103.006.pdf