Ask the expert: Manon Desjardins-Nighbor
With the holiday season behind us and several weeks of winter ahead, caregivers are particularly susceptible to the "winter blues." While deeply rewarding, caregiving can also be extremely challenging. Stress, exhaustion, isolation and financial burden can be compounded during the winter months when it's hard to get out of the house and daylight is limited. Manon Desjardins-Nighbor, a care coordinator with the Champlain CCAC, says it's vital for caregivers to carve out time for themselves wherever possible and stay connected with the outside world.
"The winter months can be extremely isolating for caregivers - it's so important to recognize signs of social isolation and know how to stay connected," explains Manon. Maintaining a social network can help ease feelings of loneliness and boredom.
Manon Desjardins-Nighbor offers a number of tips for caregivers to cope with the winter months:
- Reach out to friends and family regularly. Sharing your feelings and experiences can help others better understand your needs and how to help you.
- Consider joining a support group – you might be surprised at how good it feels to connect with other caregivers.
- Make a deliberate plan. Invite a friend or neighbour for coffee.
- Try to keep humour in your life to lift your spirits. Watch a comedy or read something uplifting.
- Accept any help offered and don't be afraid to ask for help. Many people want to help but don't know how – and they may assume you will ask for help when you need it.
- Let go of guilt. Recognize that you are doing the best that you can.
- Consider respite care. It is important to reenergize and take care of yourself as well.
- Be kind to yourself, reassess how much you can do. What is important to you?
- Practice saying no to other demands when you're feeling overwhelmed.
- Try to focus on positive thoughts. Focus on what you and the person you love can still do instead of the abilities lost.
Learn more about caregiver programs and supports: www.champlain.ccac-ont.ca
About the Champlain CCAC
The Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is one of the largest health service providers in eastern Ontario, connecting people to care in a region covering over 18,000 sq. km. Every year, the Champlain CCAC supports clients in a variety of settings through injury, illness and the complications of age or disability by facilitating their access to information, community-based services and other resources. Our client care coordination teams help develop care plans for people of all ages, focused on maintaining independence and dignity at home and in their community.