You can watch our full 45’+ presentation with Q&A at the link below or you can just educate yourself with the 5 minute read and access the complimentary links below to educate yourself in a quicker time frame.
Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding and challenging roles any of us ever embrace. Some of us choose it as our vocation and career and others of us choose to caregive for a loved one. If you have ever had a kid, you certainly qualify as a caregiver too!
Know that as a caregiver, your selflessness is what we are called to do as humans. Whether you are a Christian or not, if you know the story of Jesus of Nazareth, it is one of sacrificing yourself to serve and save others. In Mark 12:31, Jesus gives great wisdom in saying, “…’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Regardless of the nature of your caregiving, it can be hard to find the balance of feeling like you’re caring well enough for those you’re caring for AND taking care of yourself. In general, all you need to do to get a great starting point of advice is to take any commercial airline flight’s advice. “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure during the flight, an oxygen mask will automatically drop down in front of you. If you are traveling with someone who requires assistance, put on your own oxygen mask first and then you will be better able to assist others.” Another example would be water safety. Before one can be an effective lifeguard, they first need to know how to swim before they can help save anyone else.
All that being said, in order to be an effective caregiver and give 100% of what you are able to those you serve, you have to take care of yourself first. Put on your oxygen mask, teach yourself to swim.
The best way to do that is to maximize your physical and mental health through the 6 Pillars of Health. Learn more about the 6 Pillars of Health here.
You will not get any value out of this blog unless you visit the link above and learn about the 6 Pillars of health before moving on.
Once you overcome the most challenging part of being a caregiver, balancing your own 6 Pillars, next is the second most challenging, helping those you care for balance their 6 Pillars of Health. Typically, if one is requiring caregiving, they have some barriers to this, either physically and/or mentally. So, do your best to get creative on how you can help those you caregive for balance their health as much as possible. If it seems a little overwhelming to work to improve in these 6 areas in yourself AND those you caregive for, just focus on getting 1% better every day. If you need more guidance/inspiration, check out our blog, Life Hack: just get a little bit better every day that was also linked in the 6 Pillars blog.
One of the main features from that blog is the power of focusing on getting 1% better every day, which happens to be just 15 minutes a day. If nothing else, spend 15 minutes per day working on one of your pillars and help those you are caring for do the same!
One more tool you can use specific to exercise and activity, but you can apply this concept to spending 15 minutes on the other pillars of health, is a Time Based Workout you can learn more about in our blog.
Lastly, if you came here looking for tips on proper form for caregiving such as bending over at the bedside, transfers, lifting, etc., this is not the blog to give you that “textbook” instruction. However, we do have some resources that you can utilize to better prepare your body for the physical demands of caregiving.
- 7 Foundational Movement Patterns Blog
- The best way to have “proper form” with movements in life is to strengthen proper form with exercise. Our 7 Foundational Movement Patterns help you focus on how to systematically strengthen your whole body with the simplicity on focusing on 7 main movement patterns.
- Gardening and Yardwork Tips and Resources
- How is this helpful? Well, we teach you how to properly bend and lift and how to work with reaching with your arms. That happens to cover a lot of the awkward things you may have to do while caregiving. Spoiler alert: it’s okay to bend and twist your back, just make sure your hips help and you’re strong with the 7 Foundational Movement Patterns above!
So, that’s it. The key to being the best caregiver you can be is to take care of your own health and then you can better help others with their health! The simplest way to do this is by balancing your 6 Pillars of Health and helping those you caregive for do the same!
If you ever have pain limiting you from any of this, feel free to use all the resources in our blog to work to self treat, and if you still need help, schedule an appointment with a Physical Therapist near you. In the Willamette Valley in Oregon, we’re here to help! You can request your PT appointment with us here. Even if you don’t have pain limiting you currently, we’re happy to be your Primary Care PT to help you identify areas you can improve your movement or 6 Pillars of Health to reduce risk for future injuries and pain and maximize your health.
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We are truly stronger together!
Healing Motion PT Team