We all know how important self care is for caregivers. But have we ever considered our caree’s need for self care? We help meet their needs every day: meals and snacks, clean clothes, rest, medical care, and a host of other things. And while we don’t want to add another thing to your lengthy to-do lists, we encourage you to think about how your caree might need some self care too. Here are 5 ways to set them up for self care success (without much work on your part!).
#1. Keep a mirror handy.
A big part of having a sense of self-worth and identity is being able to see yourself. Make sure if you care for someone young, they have a mirror low enough that they can see into it; if you care for an older adult who can’t easily get up, set a hand mirror within their reach.
#2. Give them alone time with self-care products they can use independently.
For my grandmom, AJ, this looks like washing her hands with a sudsy washcloth, then setting her up with a warm washcloth (without soap) and a dry hand towel, then leaving her alone to do the rinsing and drying herself.
For others this may look like leaving them alone with nail clippers or a file to let them maintain their nails independently. Or maybe brushing their own teeth or putting curlers in their hair post-wash. Alone time and independence are huge parts of self-care.
#3. Remind them how to do things they used to love.
Perhaps it’s teaching your child how to soothe themselves by rubbing their belly the way you did when they were little, or reminding your older parent or grandparent how to hold a baby doll like a real baby; how to turn the tv on to watch the game; how to put on lipstick; how to fill the bird feeder; how to color a page in a coloring book, the list goes on.
Even though they once loved these things, they may have forgotten how to do them. Do activities like this alongside them so they can imitate you, then step away to see if they can continue on their own.
#4. Talk about the weather in a positive way.
If it’s sunny, point out the way the sun pours in and warms up that spot on the floorboards. If it’s rainy, point out the calming pitter-patter of the rain on the roof. If it’s snowy, point out how everything sounds silent like the whole world has a secret, and how you feel like you should whisper.
If they hear you complaining about the weather, then have to look out at it all day, they will have a negative outlook. Showing them to be joyful about the weather makes the window feel like a pleasure instead of a prison.
#5. Let them be in charge of something in the house.
Maybe they’re in charge of making a grocery list, meal planning, or prepping for dinner by chopping & peeling. Maybe they’re in charge of wiping the table after dinner or folding the napkins.
Perhaps they enjoy matching the socks when laundry is done (bonus sensory points if the laundry is toasty warm when they’re helping with this chore!). If you have a pet, maybe the task of letting the dog out, feeding the cat, or cleaning the fish tank would bring them a sense of fulfillment.
Responsibility and accomplishment are forms of self care. Getting something checked off the to-do list—big or small—provides a sense of worth. Feeling helpful is important for feeling loved and needed. It also helps them feel like a part of something bigger.
Did you know Caregiving Advice is on Spotify? Check out the playlist below of soothing tunes for quiet afternoons. Listening to music can be a form of self care too!