Caring for Yourself While Caring for Others

September 03, 2019

Caregiving can be a challenging role for anyone, no matter if you’re a professional or caring for a loved one. To be the best caregiver you can be, take time to take care of yourself too!

 

Make Time for Yourself

afroamerican woman reading in a corner of her house

Caring for someone is not an easy role to take on, so make sure to set realistic expectations for yourself. If you start feeling anger and frustration, these could be signs you’re getting overwhelmed

Schedule a few 10-minute breaks throughout the day and make sure to stick to them! You can use these short breaks to practice a breathing exercise, read a book, or listen to your favorite playlist. When you feel refreshed, you will be able to approach any challenge in a more positive way.

 

Mind Your Body

elderly couple eating a healthy lunch

Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury; you need to take care of your body so it can function properly. Have you eaten well today? Are you well hydrated? Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs and try not to skip meals, even if you feel pressed for time.

If your work is physically demanding, make sure to stay active. Squeeze in time for enjoyable exercises like taking a walk, releasing tension at a yoga class, or simply stretching at home.

 

Don’t Discount Your Emotions

Senior caregiver looking to the outsides through a window

Caregiver burnout is real, and not surprisingly, it’s quite common. It’s a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can leave you feeling anxious, fatigued, stressed, and depressed – and it can make you feel like your compassion has dried up.

Caregiver burnout affects both your body and your mind. Some of the most recognizable symptoms include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Loss of interests in activities you used to enjoy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • A general feeling of hopelessness and helplessness

By following the tips above, you may be able to keep yourself feeling recharged and healthy. If it’s still too much, it might be time to admit that you need help.

 

Caregivers Need Help Too

people in a support group

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help or accepting help. Allow others to be there for you and take care of you. You can join a caregiver support group or check-in with your doctor to make sure you’re in good health.

However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and start believing that you may not be able to continue to do the job on your own, it may be time to seek outside resources. Coordinate with your loved one’s family doctor – they can make recommendations based on the unique needs of the person you’re caring for.

 

AltaMed is Here for You

altamed caregiver attending elderly at lunch

Contact us to see how we can help. In addition to primary care and specialty physicians to help you and your loved ones grow healthy and stay healthy at every age, we also offer a wide variety of services for seniors. We can help coordinate care and treatment, and we may be able to help identify community services that can lighten your load. And the AltaMed PACE is a program that helps keep seniors with complex medical needs healthy and independent at home. Call us today: we’re here for you.

 

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Mental Health: Seek Help, Be the Help

July 23, 2018

Mental health and suicide have been topics of interest in the media due to the recent loss of several high-profile celebrities. At AltaMed, we are here to help so that mental health issues can be treated and do not lead to suicide. Although it may be hard, you can always ask for help and be of support to others.

Here is how you can take action:

people hugging

Seek Help
Seek professional help if you ever feel helpless or alone in your feelings. If you feel like you need to talk, open up to friends or family who you trust. If you feel like you need professional help, you can safely reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline anonymously. Once you open up and acknowledge the underlying issue, you’ll be able to move forward and work on treating it. 

two male friends

Be the Help
Be there for those around you and look for warning signs. Speak with dignity and respect when discussing mental illness to create a safe space for others to open up without judgment. Be a positive influence on others and empower them. Encourage others to reach out to the resources listed below to get them the help they need. 

track running

A Fresh Start
Every day is an opportunity to start fresh. Work on putting yourself first by doing things that make you feel good from the inside. You can go for a walk, dance to your favorite music, spend time volunteering and helping others, or hang out with friends or family. 

If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, reach out to our Behavior Health team at (855) 425-1777. Our licensed clinical social workers are trained to help you cope when life gets stressful.

If you are in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide prevention hotline today at (800) 273-TALK (8255)
 

The Health Risks of Loneliness and How to Combat Them

June 03, 2019

When was the last time you felt lonely?

Maybe it was because you moved to a new city, lost a family member or close friend, or started a new job where you didn’t know anyone.

If you’re like three in four Americans, you’ve probably battled loneliness at some point. For most of us, a little loneliness is a normal part of life. However, constantly feeling lonely can be harmful to your physical and mental health.  


Causes of Loneliness


People in their late 20s, mid-50s, and late 80s are most likely to suffer loneliness. Common causes of long-term loneliness include:

  • Not getting enough sleep/irregular sleeping patterns
  • Overload of assignments at work 
  • Too much time on social media
  • Not enough quality time with loved ones

Recent studies have shown that the effects of loneliness are as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and it’s as big a health risk as obesity. If it isn’t addressed loneliness can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure 
  • Death 

You don’t have to live with loneliness. Here are a few options that can connect you with other people and lift your mood.


Create a Writing or Audio Journal


AltaMed writing journal 
Express your emotions: writing your thoughts down or talking things out can be therapeutic. Try creating a journal and writing in it regularly on either a daily or weekly basis, about your day and how you’re feeling. You don’t need anything fancier than a few sheets of paper or a Notepad-type program on your phone or computer.

If writing isn’t your thing, try making an audio journal. You can use the recorder on your phone to record how you feel throughout the day. Documenting your emotions can help you process situations and give you a better understanding of why you feel the way you do.


Join a Fitness Class


AltaMed fitness class
 
Isolation from friends and family can take a toll on you. To meet new friends and other people in your community, try exercising. Exercise is great for your mental and physical health. Attending a weekly fitness class at your local gym or community center can give you something to look forward to and an opportunity to interact with others – you can even make new friends who have similar interests.

Many community centers and neighborhood fitness facilities offer free or low-cost classes. You can also explore Facebook groups or join Meetup to find fitness groups that are best suited for you. 


Get A Pet


AltaMed pets
 
Getting a furry or feathered friend can help you battle loneliness, provide some company, and give you a cuddle-buddy. In one study, 75% of pet-owners said their pet made them happier, 67% said they felt unconditional love, and 66% reported being less lonely. If you get a pet that can go on walks, you may even meet pet-owners, which may lead to doggie play-dates, and eventually, may lead to a human friendship. 
If you live in an apartment or you just can’t get a pet right now, consider visiting or volunteering at a local shelter or rescue. If you visit, you’ll have the opportunity to pet, play with, and interact with lots of animals. And if you volunteer, you’ll meet new people who also love animals.


Going to Therapy 
AltaMed doctor and patient
 

There’s no shame in getting a therapist. It can feel really good to talk to someone who gives you their full attention, and therapists can help you get to the root of your problem then help you develop “tools” for solving or dealing with it. 

Within the Latino and African American communities, there is a negative perception of going to therapy that comes from the fear of a therapist exposing your “dirty laundry” to the world. Medical professionals take an oath to ensure your privacy and well-being is prioritized. They’re also required to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which prohibits medical professionals from talking to anyone about what you’ve shared without your express permission.  

Even if it’s common, loneliness shouldn’t stop you from living your life freely and experiencing new things. These activities are just a few of the many things you can do when you find yourself feeling lonely – or better yet, try them now to help stop loneliness before it even starts. 

If you’ve experienced persistent loneliness or sadness, call AltaMed’s Behavioral Health services call (855) 425-1777. Loneliness hurts, but help may just be a phone call away.