Know when you are on a flight and the flight attendant says, “In the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before assisting others”? This piece of advice applies to caregiving too; but, it is so hard to do.
I just spent the last week caring for my mother 24/7. Due to her frail condition and fall risk, I had to be ‘on alert’ the entire time. I was so focused on her and what she needed that I totally ignored my own needs.
I completely forgot to eat right, drink water, take my own daily medications. Sleeping through the night was not an option since she has to have help getting to the bathroom. I got so consumed by my roles as daughter and primary caregiver that I completely neglected myself. Now, at the end of the week, I look and feel terrible. I am sleep deprived, have huge dark circles under my eyes, am dehydrated and need to get back on track with my own daily medications.
I will not be the best caregiver if I don’t take care of my own body and health needs. My mom needs me to be mentally sharp; she needs me physically and emotionally strong right now. Not a hot mess that I became after a week of caregiving. Trying to figure out how to do that is hard. Intellectually, I know it is important for me to put on my oxygen mask first.