Photo by Huyen Nguyen on Unsplash
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the senior population will only increase with each passing year. Advances in medicine allow us to live longer, but many seniors find they cannot care for themselves like they could when they were younger. In fact, many people find they need the help of a caretaker to complete daily tasks. Most of the time, they use an informal caregiver. Informal caregivers are family members and friends who provide help and support without pay. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older during 2015.
Caregiving is rewarding, but it’s also very stressful. It’s not easy watching someone you love and respect lose their autonomy. Likewise, it’s very difficult to experience such a loss yourself. Practicing self-care enables seniors and their caregivers to handle the stresses they face while supporting physical, emotional, and mental health.
Invest in Insurance
It might not sound like traditional self-care advice, but getting insurance can actually give you peace of mind. Medicare is an invaluable resource for seniors. It helps cover the costs of medical expenses, which tend to take up the majority of a senior’s fixed budget. Staying on top of Medicare enrollment dates ensures seniors are covered throughout the year; however, basic Medicare plans aren’t going to cover things like vision, dental, and hearing. Medicare Advantage plans are developed by private insurance companies to supplement coverage for seniors at an affordable rate, though they do vary by state. The right Medicare Advantage plan can save seniors and their caregivers time, stress, and perhaps most importantly, money.
Try Out Yoga
Yoga has many benefits for seniors and their caregivers. It’s a gentle activity they can do together at home or in a social setting. The gentle movements and stretches that coincide with yoga alleviate pain and stiffness in the muscles. It also relieves swelling in joints, improving mobility and reducing arthritis pain. Even if the yoga sequence isn’t strenuous, the exercise instigates the release of endorphins and feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When the body experiences a rush of these chemicals, it alleviates feelings of depression and anxiety. Finally, a major part of yoga is focusing on the breath and practicing mindfulness, much like meditation. Practicing mindfulness is good for seniors because it improves longevity, decreases feelings of loneliness, and slows memory loss. For caregivers, mindfulness relieves stress and centers them in a place of compassion.
Plan Quick and Healthy Meals
Seniors and their caregivers need ample nutrition to support their minds and bodies. However, caregivers may not always have time or energy to make healthy meals from scratch. That’s when freezer meals are a lifesaver. Freezer meals are easy to assemble and made with simple ingredients. They can be prepared in disposable cookware to cut down on the amount of dishes caregivers have to do once the meal is done. And perhaps best of all, they can be made for cheap, helping seniors and their caregivers live better for less.
Some great freezer meals for two caregivers should try include:
- Roasted chicken and vegetables
- Baked chicken fajitas
- Turkey and sweet potato saute
- Spaghetti pie
- Chicken broccoli rice casserole
- Baked ziti
- Garlic pork stir-fry
- Vegetarian chili
- Twice baked potatoes
- Crockpot beef stew
Millions of Americans act as the primary caregiver for a senior loved one. While caregiving is rewarding, it’s also stressful. Self-care is essential for supporting physical, emotional, and mental health. Seniors and their caregivers can benefit from self-care practices like practicing yoga and meditation, and nourishing the body and mind with hearty meals. Caregivers, in particular, should look into Medicare Advantage plans that cover health expenses regular Medicare does not. To save time, energy, and money, caregivers can make freezer meals ahead of time and turn to them when they are too exhausted to make a meal from scratch.