Prioritizing Care for the Caregiver
(BPT) - Self-care means different things to different people. Its essence, though, is focused on wellbeing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 'Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health,' adding, 'even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.'
This is especially true for those who spend their days caring for loved ones, helping with everything from meals and bathing to dressing and overall care. Being a caregiver requires energy, patience and focus to perform tasks for others that most of us take for granted. It is a selfless and demanding role that can wear out even the hardiest among us.
Finding ways to be more efficient and to prioritize one's own wellbeing can ultimately result in better care for the recipient. Fortunately, people can take advantage of their AARP member benefits that can help make self-care for the caregiver even easier.
Prioritize Your Health
When you're taking care of others, it's easy to overlook your own health, especially preventive care. However, it isn't a good idea to skip wellness checkups or postpone appointments to ensure there are no underlying concerns and any ailments can be addressed before they become serious.
If you have not yet established care with a physician, AARP members can access quality care with Oak Street Health, a primary care provider specializing in older adults on Medicare with a team of doctors, nurses and other professionals dedicated to keeping you well - physically, mentally and socially - at more than 190 centers across 24 states. Benefits include personalized preventive care plans, same-day/next-day appointments where available, a 24/7 healthcare patient support line and more. AARP membership is not required to visit an Oak Street Health location.
If you are already in pain, either from providing physical support for loved ones as you help them move in and out of the car or up and down stairs, or from an older injury, physical therapy can help. Fortunately, scheduling an appointment is more convenient than ever through AARP® Physical Therapy at Home™ by Luna, and it can help ensure you continue to provide the necessary care and even avoid future injuries. Luna allows you to schedule physical therapy where and when it works for you. It provides access to highly experienced physical therapists who specialize in a wide range of disorders and ailments, and who come directly to you. AARP members and non-members alike can receive at-home physical therapy from Luna. Most insurances and Medicare are accepted by Luna and a prescription may not be needed to start.
Get Some Help of Your Own
It's difficult to replace the primary caregiver, but there are some exceptional tools and services that enable you to step back and take a break without sacrificing care and safety. Taking time off periodically can be beneficial to your mental and physical health.
If you're planning a trip or simply need some help around the house, the online marketplace Carelinx is there to help. AARP members have access to pre-screened, professional caregivers and receive a 3% discount on in-home caregiving services. Whether it's for a few hours or every day, the Carelinx network of caregivers can provide personalized care to help with daily life.
If a visiting caregiver is stepping in, your loved one has periods alone, or you simply want to stay on schedule, the Hero® smart pill dispenser can help you track what you took and when. The Hero® smart pill dispenser is an all-in-one medication management platform designed to help make managing medications easier and more convenient for any health condition. You can set a medication schedule in Hero's mobile app, load up to a 90-day supply of ten different medications, and receive alerts from Hero's smart dispenser. AARP members receive an 8% discount and pay no initiation fee when they register for a Hero subscription.
If falls are a concern, technology can help. Lifeline offers medical alert systems with automatic fall detection, providing peace of mind that your loved one can get the help they need even if you are not present. AARP members save 15% on medical alert service and get free shipping and activation. You can choose the service option that fits your lifestyle and get fast, 24/7/365 access to help when you need it.
Plan for Your Care
As a caregiver, you have unique insight into your own potential need for care in the future. It's a good idea to prioritize it, even while providing care for someone else.
Approximately 70% of Americans who reach age 65 will need some long-term care at some point in their life, and nearly half will need some sort of paid assistance. AARP members have access to information on options to help protect assets, maintain their lifestyles, and prepare for the future within their budget.
It's also understandable that the demands as a caregiver may cause you to push off thinking about the future, especially when it comes to estate planning. You can make it less onerous with the help of Trust & Will, a secure and easy-to-use online estate planning platform with access to top-rated member support, free shipping, and one year of unlimited updates. As an AARP member, you receive a 20% discount on trusts, wills and estate planning documents.
You Can't Pour from an Empty Cup
To be the best caregiver possible, try to avoid thinking of self-care as indulgent or selfish and instead consider it an investment in your capacity to provide care. Remaining healthy, calm and focused requires taking proactive steps on your own behalf. When you fill your own cup first, you can better help your loved one fill theirs. To find more ways to simplify self-care, visit AARP.com/benefits.
AARP and its affiliates are not insurers, agents, brokers or producers. AARP member benefits are provided by third parties, not by AARP or its affiliates. Providers pay a royalty fee to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. Some provider offers are subject to change and may have restrictions. Please contact the provider directly for details.