Skip to main content

Staying Healthy

Why do I need to think about my own health now?

Caregivers often brush aside their own needs. They tend not to go to the doctor as often as they should, and many do not get the preventative care that they need. Caregivers should especially go to the doctor on a regular basis if any chronic illness should occur. But caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding. As a caregiver, you are at greater risk for colds, infections, and chronic diseases. Taking time to care for yourself is important. Be sure that you maintain healthy behaviors such as healthy eating, staying hydrated, stress management, daily exercise, and avoiding substance abuse. If you stay healthy, you will be better able to care for your loved one.

What do I need to do to stay healthy?

It’s important that you have regular screening check-ups with your medical doctor, eye doctor, and dentist. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends you get the following screening on a regular basis:

  • Everyone: Dental checkups and cleanings, eye exams, blood pressure checks, weight and height measurements, blood work (e.g. blood glucose, and cholesterol), fecal occult blood tests (for people age 50 or older or as directed by your doctor), and colonoscopies (as directed by your doctor).
  • Some people may also need: Mammograms (age 40 or older or as directed by your doctor), Pap smears, bone density tests (as directed by your doctor). Prostate exams (age 40 or older or as directed by your doctor). Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer screenings are no longer recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, but your physician may still order this test during your physical exam.

Other ways you can stay healthy include:

  • Recognize early warning signs of stress (exhaustion, getting sick more often, feeling irritable, withdrawing from people, not sleeping well). Talk with your doctor, counselor, or pastor if you are unable to effectively control or cope with your stress and/or emotions.
  • Learn to use mind-body stress-reducing techniques (meditation, yoga, etc.).
  • Identify the barriers that keep you from taking care of your health. Seek help with caregiving responsibilities in order to go to doctor’s appointments or exercise if needed. Scheduled needed doctor’s appointments and organize appointments on a calendar or your phone.
  • Do not miss doctor appointments. If you do not have a family doctor, eye doctor and/or dentist, ask a friend to recommend one.
  • Get roughly 8 hours of high-quality sleep at night.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: eat a healthy diet with proper nutrition and stay hydrated. Try to exercise on a regular basis.
  • Take time off, and seek respite at regular intervals.
  • Take time to relax and do something you enjoy each day, even if it is only for an hour; read a book, watch your favorite television show, meet friends for coffee.

Remember to focus on your own health and well-being. Attend to your own health care needs. Set goals for your health behaviors. Seek and accept help from others. Identify ways to overcome barriers.