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Preventive care is important for everyone, but it is especially vital for caregivers. As a caregiver, you are responsible for the health and well-being of your loved one(s). It is a demanding role that can easily take a toll on your health if you don’t take preventative measures. If your health deteriorates, you won’t be able to help care for anyone else – your health is no longer just for your benefit. This is why self-care and preventive care are not selfish, they’re essential for you in your role. In this article, we will define preventive care and explain why it matters for caregivers. We will also offer tips for accessing preventive care and ways to overcome any guilt you may experience around taking time for yourself. 

What is Preventive Care?

Preventive care is defined as “routine health care that includes screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent illnesses, disease, or other health problems.” Preventive care can also include vaccinations, mental health, and physical exams.

Why Does Preventive Care Matter for Caregivers?

As a caregiver, you have a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders. By taking steps to care for your own health, you can prevent health problems before they start. That preventative self-care means you’ll be able to take better care of your loved ones in the long run. So make sure to schedule regular checkups with your doctor, get screenings and immunizations, eat healthily, and exercise. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your loved one. 

Tips for Accessing Preventative Care

Here are six tips for accessing preventive care:

  1. Make time for regular check-ups. Even if you feel healthy, it’s important to see your doctor for regular check-ups. This will help you catch any potential problems early and get the treatment you need.
  2. Get vaccinated. Vaccinations can protect you from serious illnesses (which can, in turn, protect your loved one from contracting them), so do what you can to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations. You may be able to get some vaccinations for free through the government’s National Adult Immunization Program.
  3. Manage your stress levels. Caregiving can be stressful, so it’s important to find ways to manage your stress. Exercise, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques can all help to reduce stress levels.
  4. Look for community resources. There may be local organizations that offer free or low-cost preventive care services. Contact your local CRC if you need help locating these services.
  5. Use technology. Many doctors offer virtual appointments that can be conducted via video chat or phone call. If you’re short on time or resources to get to the doctor in person, this can be a great alternative.
  6. Talk to your insurance company. Most insurance plans offer coverage for preventive care services such as screenings and vaccinations. By understanding your coverage, you can take advantage of all the benefits available to you.

Overcoming Personal Blocks for Self-Care

Caregivers are often so focused on taking care of others that they forget to take care of themselves. As a result, they can quickly become overwhelmed, leading to feelings of guilt when they do take time for themselves. However, it’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s essential for caregivers to stay healthy and happy. Without it, you won’t be able to provide the best possible care for your loved ones. 

There are many ways to practice self-care, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Taking a few minutes each day for yourself can make a big difference. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or just taking a few deep breaths, taking time for self-care can help you overcome guilt and recharge your batteries.

If you’re feeling guilty about taking time for yourself, here are a few tips to help you overcome that guilt:

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself. Recognize that you cannot do everything – it is okay to ask for help.
  • Talk to someone who understands. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk to another caregiver, a professional, or a support group. Someone who knows first-hand what you’re going through. They can offer support and advice on how to overcome your unjustified feelings of anxiety or guilt around self-care.
  • Make a plan. When you have a plan for your loved one’s care, it can be easier to feel confident about taking time for yourself. Set up a schedule with other family members or caregivers, so you know that your loved one will be taken care of while you’re gone.
  • Give yourself grace. Caregiving is a demanding job, and it’s okay if you don’t always get it right. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that you’re doing the best you can.

Further Reading: Getting Paid to Provide Care for a Loved One

If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver in California next. Becoming a caregiver is both physically and mentally difficult, and expensive. The state of California offers several paths for least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.

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