What worked for me

Taking a break isn’t always a realistic option for caregivers; here’s how to cope until you can

For more than five years, I cooked, paid bills, managed medical appointments, made multiple runs to the emergency room, sat for hours by hospital beds, booked transitional care facilities and provided physical and emotional support to my elderly parents.

This was all done while working full time and parenting my teenage daughter. I was often stretched between caring for her and my mom and dad — and the stress of it all took a toll on me physically and emotionally.

Does this sounds familiar? If you’re a caregiver, you know what I’m talking about. Whether you’re providing love and support to an ailing parent, spouse, sibling or friend, the side effects are the same.

And although friends and other family members encourage you to take breaks and take care of yourself, anyone who’s been in the trenches knows it’s not always easy. Wherever you go to get away, your heart remains at the bedside.

So, how can you realistically care for yourself while caring for your loved one? Here are three things that worked for me.

Use essential oils.

I was unaware of the healing power of essential oils until a friend introduced them to me at a time of desperation in caring for my dad with Alzheimer’s.

The “magic” oils used on the back of his neck and feet brought him peace amid uncharacteristic rage caused by the disease. And when I used them on myself, I felt like I was having a spa day without leaving the care center. I’m here to tell you that a little splash of lavender on the pillow at night works wonders. Two of the most popular sites for pure essential oils are youngliving.com and doterra.com.

Bring music into the room.

I witnessed the healing power that Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra had on my mother in the hospital! According to Science Daily, the music of Mozart and Strauss can treat hypertension. Music has the power to soothe and transport you to happier times.

Learn more about the transformative power of music on memory at musicandmemory.org.

Make notes of memorable moments.

There are rays of light amid the storm that shine in the sharing of a memory, an unexpected smile or a loving glance that says, “Your presence means a lot to me.”

Once you savor that moment, write it down in journal. It can be the fuel you need to keep you going when you feel like crashing. It can also provide comfort at a time of loss.

There’s no greater gift than providing love and support when it’s needed most. In the aftermath of my parents’ passing, I grew to treasure some the moments that at the time were the most difficult.

The joy that was found within moments of music, essential oils, a smile and a glance carried me through and it is ever present in my memory.

For more than 25 years, Kari Logan has helped people find the right words to educate, promote and inspire readers across multiple industries, state government and nonprofit organizations.