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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  • "I have been a patient at Dr. Meylor’s clinic for the past 15 years, and during that time, he has been my primary health specialist. As an elite age group runner, it is extremely important to stay in alignment – both to prevent injury and to sustain optimum performance, so it is crucial to get a chiropractic adjustment at least once a month. Along with proper training, orthotics, attention to nutrition, and adequate sleep, chiropractic has been an essential part of my success in which I have been fortunate to compete at a national level in my age group for many years. And at a time when many of my age group competitors are declining in their running abilities, I have been able to improve my performance based upon age grading scales and have even been listed nationally in USA Track & Field’s rankings over the past two years. I am convinced this wouldn’t have happened had I not been getting regular adjustments from Dr. Meylor."
    Andriette Wickstrom, Storm Lake
  • "In addition to adjustments, there have been several occasions in which I have had non-invasive acupuncture treatments, with very successful results, especially during several instances in which I experienced severe headaches from allergic reactions. Not only did the acupuncture alleviate the pain, it also convinced me to never attempt to mask such problems by using aspirin or other such drugs or pain relievers."
    Andriette Wickstrom, Storm Lake
  • "I realize that not everyone is a competitive athlete, however, being in the best physical condition possible should be a goal for all of us as we strive to lead happy and productive lives. I greatly recommend having chiropractic care as an integral part of everyone’s health plan. The high quality care I have received from Dr. Meylor has contributed to my overall excellent health, and I would encourage others to maximize their own physical potential by choosing chiropractic treatment. Not only does Dr. Meylor offer exceptional skills, he is also very approachable in communicating to patients using understandable terms, and I completely trust his professional expertise."
    Andriette Wickstrom, Storm Lake
  • "I was diagnosed with Fibromylagia 9 years ago, after being in bed for 6 week's due to the severe pain I was in. A friend recommended that i go to see Dr. Meylor. When i first walked into Dr. Meylor's office I was struggling to hold my head up without support. Dr. Meylor suggested therapy, acupuncture, an alignment, proper nutrition and exercise. The combination has kept me moving.
    Dr. Meylor sees me once every 3-4 week's Keeping aligned has proved to give me the best relief from my fibromyalgia symptoms. Thanks to Dr. Meylor and his staff, over the course of the past 9 years I have been able to have a very good quality of life with fibromyalgia.....something I once thought I would never have."
    Chandra Younie
  • "I came to see Dr Meylor with constant burning in my ear, down my neck and arm. The office staff made me feel so welcome. Dr. Meylor examined me and i was adjusted twice that week and I felt so much better with each adjustment. I know that with my stressful job I will feel and do better to keep myself adjusted and continue going to Dr. Meylor on a monthly basis. Best decision I ever made."
    Rebecca
  • "I first started see Dr. Meylor in November 2012. When I first came to the office I was unable to walk for more than 1 block and I was not able to stand for more than five minutes. I was in such severe pain with my lower back that I had opted to seek pain control through the use of pain medication shots put directly into my spine . After a series of a total 12 shots into my spine I was still in severe pain and no relief in sight."
  • "Upon Dr. Meylor's recommendation I started seeing him 3 times a week for 4 weeks then 2 times a week for 3 weeks and finally 1 time a week for 2 more weeks. I was finally able to cope with what little discomfort I had. I now am able to stand for a good portion of my day and I can now walk about 8 block now without much pain. I will never be free from my back issue but I am now able to return to a normal life. I owe a lot to Dr. Meylor for helping me to become stronger and more functional in my day to day living. I continue to see Dr. Meylor on a weekly basis and am so happy with my improvement. I would highly recommend him to anyone that is needing help with any kind of chiropractic need."
  • "I had been suffering with severe low back pain and sciatica down my left leg for months. This affected everything I did and I became less and less active. I could not sleep at all at night because of the pain. My family could see how much pain I was in and I was not myself. I had to stop going to my children's school and sporting events that required me to sit in bleachers because of the constant pain.
    I went to my MD several times and was given pain pills and muscle relaxers. They made me feel terrible and now I had more side affects from them. The Dr. told me I should have back surgery which scared me to death."
  • "A friend told me to try her chiropractor Dr. Meylor. I called and they got me in that same day. Dr. Meylor listened to all my complaints and did a thorough exam and x-rays. He explained why I was experiencing this kind of reoccurring pain and what he could do to help. I was adjusted that day and given therapy. I felt immediate relief after my adjustment. I could'nt believe it! I had two more adjustments that week and I was so excited to be having less pain and I started sleeping thru the night! I continued following Dr. Meylor's recommendations and I feel great now and truly have my life back! I have my friend to thank for recommending Dr. Meylor and I have told many friends about my experience!"