Advice for Caregivers
- Model Emma Heming Willis is a caregiver for her husband, actor Bruce Willis, as he continues his journey with dementia.
- In a recent Instagram post, she showed followers how beneficial it can be for people consumed with helping others to take some time for themselves.
- Being a caregiver is a complex and rewarding job. And taking a step back from the role from time to time might just help you give the best care possible.
- To avoid caregiver burnout – the stress, anger, fatigue and illness that can result from putting another person’s needs above your own – our experts say to take time for yourself. Research suggests caregivers who take good care of themselves provide the best quality of care.
Being a caregiver for a loved one can take a lot out of you — so our experts support taking the time to care for yourself and prioritizing your own health.Read More
Emma became her husband’s caregiver, and it’s likely the 44-year-old model has felt a whole host of emotions. When your focus is on everyone but yourself, it can be easy to let those feelings eat away at you as you push them aside. RELATED: What Is Bruce Willis’ Rare Dementia Diagnosis And How Is His Family Coping With His Diagnosis? Thankfully, her followers recently saw her take some much-needed time for herself. And her note about why she did it should serve as inspiration for caregivers everywhere.View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
“Hi! I’m actually the problem,” she captioned a video of her spending time outside. “Bruce and his masterful mic-drop-one-liners. He would say, ‘he just can’t get out of his own way.’ I never really understood what it meant until it hit me in the face the other day. It’s me. I can’t get out of my own way.
“I plan, organize, look after everyone and I still rarely make time for me. The kicker came from Evelyn a few days ago when she said, ‘Mom, you need to get out and touch the grass.’ Spoken like her father’s child. I knew what she meant. I’m wound so tight that she sees it, they all feel it. How is that serving anyone.”
Willis’ video shows her hiking along a wildflower-studded trail, basking in the sunlight and touching her toes to the grass. It’s hard to miss how happy she looks on that brief trip for herself.
“Today I made time to do something I used to love doing—a 30 min hike and it made all difference,” she wrote. “They are giving me the permission, almost begging me to make time for myself and I need to shhhh, listen and just go 💙 #maketime.”
Other Inspiring Caregivers
- ‘Cocoon’ Actor Steve Guttenberg, 64, Stopped Acting To Care for His Ailing Father– His New Book For America’s 60-Million Caregivers
- ‘Disenchanted’ Star and Passionate Cancer Advocate Patrick Dempsey Has Critical Advice for Caregivers: ‘Take Care of Yourself’
- “Be Proud Of What You’re Doing” — Justine Almada’s Ode to Cancer Caregivers
The Complex Art of Caregiving
Emma Willis can surely confirm caregiving is a complex and rewarding job. Some days are harder than others, but it’s important to understand just how crucial the role really is.
“Caregiving is the most important job in the universe, because you are there through the highs and lows,” Julie Bulger, manager of patient and family-centered care at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, tells SurvivorNet. “You are there to support your loved one, to manage all of the daily tasks as everything is changing in your life.
“There’s so much evidence that outcomes are better when somebody has an incredible caregiver by their side.”
‘A Sacred And Blessed Calling’: Managing Life As a Caregiver
But carrying the weight of such an important role can take a toll. That’s why Tom Evans, a pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, wants caregivers to share the emotions they’re feeling with others.
“In those frustrations and that anger, take time to find someone to express that to,” he told SurvivorNet. “Whether it’s a friend, whether it’s a pastor, whether it’s a neighbor, because as you work that out of your system, you’ll be better able to be there for them.”
RELATED: How to Be a Better Caregiver for Your Loved One
Evans says no one can be a caregiver 24/7. And research suggests caregivers who take good care of themselves provide the best quality of care.
“It’ll break anybody,” Evans said of caregiving. “Just remember that you can’t care for someone else properly unless you’re strong. So, don’t hesitate to find those times.”
Patrick Dempsey’s Advice to Cancer Caregivers: Take Care of Yourself, Too
To avoid caregiver burnout – the stress, anger, fatigue and illness that can result from putting another person’s needs above your own – you can try going for a hike like Emma Willis, getting a massage, joining a support group, seeing a therapist or a wide array of other activities. There are no right or wrong answers, but just make sure you’re doing something for you.
“It is important to have some things that you can do outside of the focus of caring for somebody that you love with cancer,” Bulger said.
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