Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

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More From Daniel Sherwin

Caregivers Must Take Care of Themselves, Too

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Caregiving is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs you can have. Taking care of a family member who needs it is important and demanding work. But many caregivers have a hard time taking care of themselves in the process. Your self-care is as important as your care for your charge. After all, if you’re not there, you won’t be able to care for someone else.

More than 39 million Americans provide unpaid care to family members and loved ones. Most of them have little to no help from family members, meaning they take on the role alone. This can leave them feeling isolated and alone, and it can cause a higher mortality rate. A caregiving spouse has a 63 percent higher likelihood of dying than other people in the same age group.

When we are caring for someone else, we are less likely to care for ourselves. We skip doctor’s appointments, forego exercise and eat on the run. That means our health fades, taking our independence along with it. But practicing a little self-care can go a long way in making our lives longer and more enjoyable.

Here are some ways to get a little extra self-care into our lives.

1. Get more sleep. We know that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The constant worry can get in the way of your sleep, leaving you tired and grouchy the next day. You may even have to go to a full-time job the next day, adding to your tiredness. Try to get to bed a little earlier each night. Even if you have to wake up early, you’ll appreciate that extra 30 minutes of sleep you got in the evening.

2. Eat better. Take some time to think about the way you are eating. How can it get better? Would it help to plan your meals on Sunday for the following week? Could you do some cooking on Sunday and portion out meals for the week? Can you try to get an extra vegetable in each meal, or snack on fruit instead of candy? Even if you’re only able to make one small change, it can help you feel better.

3. Exercise. Another task that might seem impossible, exercise is one of those things we put off when we’re busy. Try to get out for a walk daily. Even if you can only go for 15 minutes at a time, it will add up. Can you put your loved one in a wheelchair and walk around the block or through a mall? Can you ask for help from a family member while you take a break? Can you get some in-home support from a nurse or other qualified caregiver? Even if you need to stay indoors, there are several different exercises you can do at home, including step and strength exercises that don’t require any special equipment. 

4. Practice self-care. Many people overlook the importance of self-care. Instead of being indulgent, self-care is simply about addressing things that are happening in your life and protecting your overall well-being. This could be anything from taking a half-hour to read a book you’re interested in or hiring someone to handle a task that requires too much of your time and energy at the moment. Don’t have the energy to mow the lawn? Look into lawn care services that can keep everything looking good until you’re ready to tackle it on your own.

5. Get support. Look for a caregiver support group in your community. Meeting with other caregivers who are in similar situations will help give you some perspective about your life. It will help you connect with people who know what you’re going through, and it will help you find needed resources through recommendations from friends. Also, look into working with a professional Darcy Thiel who can help you prepare for everything that caregiving entails.

Just remember that your life matters, too. Speak up for yourself, and ask for help when you need it. Spend some quality time with your loved one because this is the time to make a connection. Later, you’ll look back on this time as a special part of your life.

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Guest Writer Daniel Sherwin

Budget-Friendly Strategies for Planning the Ultimate Couple’s Adventure

Are you feeling some serious wanderlust but concerned you don’t have the funds for the adventure you crave? When you and your beloved are working toward healing and want to seal the deal with an epic adventure, you don’t want money worries to spoil the fun.

Here, Help for Healing shares some tips on how to plan a trip you’ll never forget, without big bills you’d wish you could forget.

Pick Your Passion

Deciding on your priorities is a great starting point for ensuring your adventure is all you’re dreaming about. Some travelers love an edgy activity exploring Mayan Ruins through the day and a cozy bed at night, while others want to enjoy the journey the most. Maybe the idea of exotic cuisine in Thailand flips your switch. Think about what the two of you are most passionate about and let it guide your choices, making that your financial priority as well as your calling.

Another idea is to pick one event and splurge on it, making it the centerpoint of your trip. Do you dream of floating through the air? Whether it’s hot air ballooning or skydiving, focus on that as a highlight, and then use cost-savings strategies for the essentials.

The Open Road

When adventure is the name of the game, sometimes exploring the open road in England is an ideal solution. As Conde Nast Traveler explains, there are amazing routes in Ireland and the UK, from the Wild Atlantic Way to the Applecross Circular.

If you’re going cross-country in the US, consider renting your wheels to save wear and tear on your own car. Big car hire agencies like Enterprise have a wide selection of vehicles, and you can save when you join their rewards program. What’s more, you can use coupons to dig into even bigger savings. That money you save can go toward your other priorities and amp up the fun!

If you’re heading overseas, don’t let the flight drain your bank account. Set a price alert, change your airport choice or opt for a redeye. Chances are you’ll snag something cheap, especially if you’re willing to fly at an off-peak time.

A Starlit Sky

If you and your partner love the idea of roughing it, camping might be your ideal adventure getaway. SkyAboveUs notes there are free camping opportunities throughout the world, if you just know where to find them! From rest stops to parking lots, public parks to hostels, you can find a place to spend the night and savor the starlit sky.

Gear-wise, consider borrowing or renting your camping paraphernalia, or purchase gently used equipment from thrift shops, or through auction and used goods websites like eBay.

Savories and Sweets

Food can chew up a large portion of your travel budget. In fact, according to The Clumsy Traveler, it’s easy for meals to eat up the largest portion of your funds! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to avoid overspending on dining.

One key strategy is to make some of your own meals. If local flavors are your heart’s desire, aim for just one meal out per day, and DIY the rest. Sometimes breakfast is included in your accommodations as well, such as when you stay at a major hotel chain, some hostels, or in an inn. Of course, if you’re camping you should plan on meals over an open fire; just be diligent about how you store your groceries.

Lastly, don’t rule out all-in-one vacations. For instance, a working dude ranch can be an adventure of a lifetime, and it’s all your meals, accommodations, and activities rolled into a single package. Just shop around for affordable options, and you’ll be making memories, City Slicker-style!

Create a Savings Plan

Once you determine the where and when, it’s time to start saving for your big vacation. Set a total to save for, and be conservative; you never know how much costs will fluctuate. Then start looking for ways to save. A great first step is automatic savings, which you can do through your bank. Set up an amount to automatically deposit whenever you get paid. Next, revisit your household budget, and look for ways to cut costs. Do you use your streaming service? Can you find a better mobile plan? Every little bit helps when you’re saving for the ultimate vacation.

Create an Emergency Plan

When you’ve scrimped and saved for the ultimate vacation, the last thing you want is an emergency dashing your plans, especially if you’re traveling abroad. High-stress situations can be trying for couples who are still mending, so take some extra precautions. Make sure your budget includes travel insurance, which will come in handy if you happen to break your arm hiking in Ireland or have a canceled flight in Canada. You’ll also want to make extra copies of your passports. You can buy a handful of traveler’s checks or pull $100 from the ATM, but have emergency cash available if you lose your wallet in Tulum. Know that your family can also quickly send you money through a transfer service like Remitly, which can deliver cash to more than 40,000 locations in minutes.

When you and your soulmate have your hearts set on adventure, don’t let your budget hold you back. Decide where your priorities are and go from there. It’ll be an epic getaway you’ll reflect on for years to come!