Just like a parent watching their child move away, it's not uncommon for relatives, friends and caregivers to feel sadness, stress or guilt. This can be especially true when it comes time to visit them in their new home.
To truly enjoy time with your loved one, self-care is crucial. Here are a few tips for taking care of yourself before and after your visits.
Recent studies show that a positive mindset goes a long way — in fact, it may even potentially improve your health. And in the short term, a little positive thinking may help reduce your worry and concern about your loved one.
If you’re worried about their move, reframing your beliefs about senior living could help. In a senior living community, your loved one has prepared meals, 24-hour professional care and a calendar chock-full of activities, programming and social events to keep them active and stimulated. While some may see senior living as a loss of independence and freedom, the truth is much more optimistic. Your loved one now has care, more time to pursue the things they love or things they’ve never tried before, and plenty of opportunities to make new friends and memories.
Limit Your Visits
After your loved one moves to a senior living community, you might feel like you need to visit every day or for long stretches at a time. But while visiting may be fun and rewarding, it's possible to have too much of a good thing.
Neglecting your own well-being in order to visit your loved one is a recipe for burnout. It's important to leave time in your schedule for self-care, exercise, social events and leisure time. Limit your visits to just a few hours, or certain days of the week. Try not to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Not only will it give you some much-needed space for self-care, but it will also help ensure that your loved one sees a rested, healthy version of you when you do stop by. Plus, it may give your loved one an opportunity to settle into their new home independently and start making new friends.
Practicing some mindful relaxation before visiting your loved one may help you be present, calm and collected during your visit. If you’re new to mindfulness, there are dozens of free resources online, like Mindful.org. Plus, there are mindfulness and meditation apps like Happify and Headspace to help you be more present wherever you are.
Simply sitting in your car and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes before a visit can help you feel more relaxed and prepared. But you don’t have to wait until before or after a visit to practice mindfulness. Focusing on your breathing and awareness during a visit may help as well. You might even practice together by taking a mindful stroll or simply sitting outside together.
Get Some Exercise
Exercising does more than just keep your body in shape — it may also keep stress at bay. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise raises your levels of feel-good endorphins, meaning it can lower the symptoms of mild anxiety and depression.
Exercise can also serve as a form of meditation. Nothing gets your mind off a stressful day like a round of tennis, a few laps in the pool, or even just a power walk around the neighborhood. Incorporating exercise into your weekly routine, whether before or after visiting your loved one, just might help you keep your spirits up.
Make a Self-Care Plan
It's easy to lose sight of yourself, especially if your loved one is ill or has Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you struggle with making time for yourself, it may help to put together a self-care plan.
Create a calendar of events, exercise and leisure activities you enjoy. Make sure to include regular checkups with your doctor, to ensure you're taking care of your health. Making a daily or weekly plan may help you balance caring for yourself and caring for your loved one.
While visiting your loved one can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be emotionally taxing. This is especially true if they’re in poor health or have cognitive decline. But you don’t have to go through it alone.
There are many resources for relatives and friends. AARP and the Family Caregiver Alliance are especially helpful resources, offering directories of information, advice, and even workshops and support groups. You could also consider seeing a therapist who can help you sort through your feelings and build coping skills.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Got a question for the Brookdale team? We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us any time.
The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.
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