According to HelpAge India, almost 50% of caregivers in India are women. Even when we put aside professional caregivers, the responsibility of caring for aging parents is often delegated to the women in the house. Apart from being a caregiver for the elders, women also juggle a career, motherhood and other household duties. Looking at this list of responsibilities and all that it entails, it is not difficult to understand that women caregivers may often face burnout or may need additional help in their day to day activities. With so many responsibilities, it is not uncommon to see women functioning under tremendous stress and often putting their own health and happiness in the background. However, over the years or months, this can lead to severe stress and other mental health issues along with physical ailments. If you know a woman caregiver, it is time to extend your support to ensure their well-being. It can be confusing to learn where to start, so here are some easy ways you can support a woman caregiver:
Lend a patient ear More often than not, women caregivers find themselves isolated both mentally and physically, owing to the growing responsibilities. In times like these when they can feel aloof and lonely, a friendly and patient ear can be helpful. Even if you do not understand all the aspects of being a caregiver, listening to the woman with an open mind can help unburden their heart and mind.
Help them take a break Caregiving can get extremely busy and the caregiver may not find the time to unwind or even take a breather. As the days go by, they may even stop trying and may not enjoy the activities they used to enjoy before. Keep an eye out for such times and ensure that they take a break when things get too much. You can help them out by taking on their responsibilities for a while or by hiring a professional caregiver to give them some respite.
Share the responsibilities If you are a member of the same household, you can share the responsibilities with the primary caregiver, to make things easier for them. If the one in need is elderly with medical conditions that you do not know much of, you can help out the woman caregiver by sharing some other responsibilities.
Sign them up or join them for physical activities As caregivers, women often don’t find the time or motivation to look after themselves. Skipping a day or two can become a long term habit with long term effects. To stay physically healthy, they must engage in daily activities like walking, swimming, yoga or other things. You can plan workouts with them or sign them up for classes to help them take better care of themselves.
Find them a support group or a community To help them share their concerns and anxieties, it is best to find them a support groupthat focuses on women caregivers. If they have taken on this role recently, engaging within a community can greatly help them learn more while learning how to balance the new responsibilities.
Ensure they follow a healthy diet If you are residing in the same household as the woman caregiver, you take on the responsibility of meal times and ensure that the caregiver follows a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet at all times. Owing to hectic schedules and stress, the caregiver is prone to sickness and poor health. A healthy diet can ensure that they do not succumb to frequent bouts of illnesses.
Encourage them to partake in social activities and hobbies As caregivers, women may often put their needs and other duties on the back burner. In these circumstances, they let go of the few instances where they can relax or rejuvenate. Taking over some of their work and encouraging them to keep a social circle or engaging in their favourite hobbies can be helpful to keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
Help them create a flexible plan Women caregivers have so many duties that at times it can get quite overwhelming. Sit down with them and divide chores and responsibilities and help them create a flexible and realistic plan in terms of duties and goals. This can boost their morale and encourage them to look after themselves along with the person they are caring for.
Words of encouragement Often women caregiverssuffer from guilt or sadness as they feel they may be lacking certain techniques or coping mechanisms and they may not be doing all that they set out to do. In these situations, sitting down with them and listing their achievements will help shift the focus from the negativity brewing with them. A few words of encouragement from time to time and acknowledgement of all that they do can work as positive reinforcement and prevent self-doubt and sadness.