Staying Healthy as a Caregiver

Woman caregiving for man in a wheelchair

How to Stay Healthy Mentally and Physically When You're a Caregiver

Taking care of others can be hard on your own health. In fact, 17 to 25 percent of caregivers say their health is fair or poor, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. That statistic isn't surprising. Whether you're caring for young children or elderly relatives, caregiving is a demanding, stressful job. Following these tips will help you avoid injuries and health issues while also reducing stress in your life.

Stay Active

Lack of exercise is a common issue among caregivers. At the end of a long day, it can be hard to find the energy to work out. Yet, inactivity can increase your risk of developing a variety of health problems, including:

  • Obesity
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Colon, Breast or Uterine Cancer

Exercise offers a simple way to reduce your risk of developing these diseases and conditions. Even 10 or 15-minute exercise sessions can help you stay healthy. You don't have to visit a gym or even leave the house to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Walking up and down the steps repeatedly, exercising to a video or jogging in place will get your blood flowing and help keep your heart, muscles, and bones strong.

Don't Neglect Your Interests

You may have given up your favorite hobbies and leisure activities after you began caring for a friend or family member. Although your dedication is certainly commendable, you may soon feel depressed or stressed if your life only involves caregiving.

Find time to watch a favorite TV show, try the new restaurant in town or finish your woodworking project. If the person you care for requires 24-hour supervision, ask a friend to take over for you for a few hours or find out if home health agencies in your area offer respite care.

Make Your Health a Priority

You can't take care of other people if you're sick. Has your diet suffered since you became a caregiver? Eating a balanced diet is a crucial factor in good health. Make sure your meals include options from the major food groups and avoid carbohydrate-laden or sugary snacks.

Make (and keep) appointments with your doctor when you don't feel well. The longer you put off receiving medical care, the worse your illness or condition can become. Visiting your doctor promptly will help you ensure that you're well enough to care for your family member or friend.

Use Safe Lifting Techniques

Poor lifting techniques can cause injuries that make it difficult or impossible to care for your relative. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 17 percent of caregivers reported that they experienced 14 or more physically unhealthy days over a month's time span.

Lifting with your legs while keeping your neck and head aligned can help you avoid injury, as can using a lifting belt to help transfer a person from a wheelchair or bed. No matter how cautiously you move, injuries can still happen. Don't be reluctant to ask for help if you don't think you can move the person safely.

See Your Chiropractor

It's not unusual for caregivers to develop stiffness and pain, particularly in their necks and backs. Ignoring your symptoms may worsen pain and decrease your range of motion.

Regular visits to your chiropractor help you reduce pain and other symptoms. Using spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, massage, and other techniques, your chiropractor can realign your spine, decrease muscle stiffness and pain, and speed healing of injured areas by increasing blood flow.

Both you and your family member or friend benefit when you take care of yourself. If caregiving is taking a toll on your body, we can help. Contact us to schedule your chiropractic appointment.

Sources:

American Heart Association: Top 10 Caregiver Tips for Staying Healthy and Active, 6/30/17

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Caregiving for Family and Friends - A Public Health Issue

Family Caregiver Alliance: Caregiver Statistics: Health, Technology and Caregiving Resources

Medline Plus: Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle

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  • "Regular visits with Dr. Roeder have significantly reduced the frequency of migraines I have suffered and the amount of neck and shoulder pain I have lived with for years. Because of Dr. Roeder I am able to focus on my busy life again"
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    W.B., San Diego
  • "I came in originally for neck pain, but getting adjusted helped lower my blood pressure & my insulin levels too.Dr. Roeder is so thorough in her care-I never knew how much better I could feel.I no longer have to take blood pressure medicine now."
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  • "Since meeting Dr. Roeder at a health seminar, she has changed my life, drastically-improving my health 100%. I had a wide range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, constant and severe headaches, body aches, nausea, difficulty concentrating and I felt extremely tired and weak. She diagnosed me with having Fibromyalgia and Candida. She put me on an anti-inflammatory diet and started me on chiropractic treatment and instructed me on strength exercises. I have lost 40 lbs and feel fantastic! Whenever I eat something that sets off a symptom, I can identify the food source now. I know how to eat well and stay away from foods that cause inflammation. Had it not been for Dr. Roeder's expert care, I believe I would still be suffering from all those symptoms-- instead I feel fantastic!"
    M.O., Spring Valley
  • "My son was diagnosed at a very young age with Hyperkyphosis. The doctor told us that surgery would be his only option but we needed to wait until he got older.My husband and I were heartbroken to think about such a major surgery for our little boy.We wanted to help him anyway we could without doing surgery. We are so thrilled to say that after seeing Dr. Roeder my son's back has made a major improvement.That there is a stronger chance that he may not need surgery after all.My son is three now and he is a very active little boy and you can't even tell that he had ever had a bad back.He is able to do what all little boys do:run, jump and climb!Taking my son to Dr. Roeder was the best decision that me and my husband have made as parents.I am so happy that Dr. Roeder is part of our lives.In fact all of my extended family members are patients of her too!Thank you so much Dr. Roeder for all of your help.You have been such a positive part of our lives.You are part of our family."
    G.C., San Diego
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    J.H., San Diego
  • "I got treated for a neck and back injury that appeared to be chronic following a major car accident. I had been to chiropractors before but without much success.After seeing Dr. Roeder now though, my mobility and general feeling of well-being has greatly improved."
    C.H., San Diego
  • "Dr. Roeder was recommended by a friend and I am completely satisfied. I was having low back pain also some neck pain. My back feels better than it has in years. I feel Dr. Roeder is complete in recommending exercising and treatment!"
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    J.F., San Diego (pediatric patient)