Those first strands of gray hair are a sign of the inevitable. We’re getting older and our bodies are changing. We may grow a little rounder around the waistline, or wake in the night, or feel a little stiffer in the morning. Yet while we adapt to new realities, we shouldn’t discount every symptom as just further evidence of aging.
How do you know when to ignore your body’s lapses or when to seek medical advice? What’s normal aging, and what’s not?
“Aging, in and of itself, is a subtle, quiet process,”...
Ask for help. You can't do everything yourself, so don't try. Get other family members and friends involved.
Be specific about what you need. Have your brother do a round of grocery shopping. See if a neighbor can keep an eye on things for half an hour while take a break. Look into community resources and see what sort of help is available.
Get support. If your friends have trouble understanding your situation, join a caregiver support group. You'll meet people who know what you're going through and can offer advice. Try your local area agency on aging to find out about groups near you.
Take care of your body. Make sure you don't ignore your own health. Get regular checkups. Try to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
Stay mentally healthy. Caregiving can be emotionally draining, but you don't want to let that turn into feelings of depression. If you feel overwhelmed, set up an appointment with a counselor or therapist.
Focus on what’s most important. You may sometimes feel like you have more things to do in a day than you have time for. So concentrate on what you have to get done and let the rest go. The world won't end if you put off cleaning out the shed for a few months or if you skip having the New Year's party this year.
Stay connected. Make an effort to keep close to the people you care about. You don't want to let your workload as a caregiver put a strain on your other relationships. Your friends and family can be a huge source of support while you take care of your loved one.
Consider taking a leave from work. Time off from your job may not be an option financially. But remember that the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick relative.