It’s important for caregivers to keep stress and burnout under control—not only for the sake and safety of the older adult in your care but also for your overall health.
While I’m not yet a caregiver for an older adult, as a single mother I care for my three young children (one of whom is a toddler) and as such have learned the importance of taking time to relieve stress and stay grounded. Thanks to a lineup of tried-and-tested products, I’m able to focus on my health and reduce the stress that can become toxic if not treated quickly. As a caregiver for an older adult, it’s critical you do your research and test different methods and products that can give you the same type of relief.
If you hold stress in your neck or shoulders (like I do) this device is a must-have in your home. This hammock fits most doors and doorknobs and offers stretching and decompression of the spinal cord, which increases blood and oxygen flow to neck and shoulder muscles, decreases pain and increases mobility. Plus, it even comes with a carrying case and a free sleep mask.
This neck and shoulder relaxer requires no assembly or setup—just set it on the floor! Made of dense (yet soft) foam, its wide base and ergonomic design allow you to rest your neck in its cradle to soothe stiffness and restore proper cervical curvature.
Newer to the massage and stretch-therapy world, yoga wheels have been growing in popularity over the last few years. As the name would suggest, this “wheel” offers rolling, stretching and decompression for the spine. Durable and skid-resistant, it’s 100% PBC-free, supports up to 500 pounds and comes in four densities.
Resistance bands are an important tool in a caregiver’s toolkit for several reasons. They increase mobility and provide assistance while stretching. They also build stabilizer muscles (muscles used a lot in caregiving) and offer an easy way to introduce strength training into your routine.
Made of natural latex rubber, these thick bands come in a variety of widths and resistance levels for many uses and fitness levels. The odorless latex offers strong resistance, and five band widths and varying resistance levels allow for multiple uses and activity types.
Offered in five different resistance levels in the same width, these resistance bands made from lightweight latex are a great option if smaller bands cause you discomfort.
Trigger point and massage therapy
This is by far my favorite method of relieving stress and finding comfort after a long, stressful day. My closet, work bag and desk are all full of products from this category.
Trigger-point therapy works by identifying and working to release tension in trigger points (bands of tight muscles within a group of muscles) to improve mobility, increase blood flow, reduce pain and improve muscle performance. The physical strain and emotional stress of caregiving often results in trigger points throughout the body, most often in the shoulders, lower back, hamstrings, calves and IT band.
Growing in popularity, this open-core style of roller offers a little more give with added massaging effect from a foam coating around the outside. Available in 11 colors/styles, this roller is suitable for all fitness levels and preferences.
This roller is designed specifically to reduce pain in the back and shins. Its patented shape and small design fits along the spine perfectly for a deeper massage in the back muscles and works well on shin muscles to ease pain from shin splints. Available in three colors, it also won Editor’s Choice from Runner’s World Magazine.
42 Birds provides sustainable and environmentally friendly yoga products made from sustainably harvested cork. Beyond the environmental benefits, the company’s one-of-a-kind offerings such as mats with no rubber tracking are thicker than most (which I enjoy in my practice), antimicrobial and extra durable. I especially appreciate the density and light weight of the yoga balls. The cork has a little more give than the other yoga balls I use, and the larger size offers less-targeted pressure for sore trigger points. Also included is a tiny reflexology ball for your feet and face!
This unique cork massage roller features special ridges that connect with trigger points in a deeper and more effective way than traditional, smooth rollers. The dense cork is durable and maintains its shape after repeated use.
Added bonus: 42 Birds’ give-back initiatives mirror its environmental mission, supporting the 1% For the Planet initiative that helps fund the World Wildlife Fund, The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, and The National Audubon Society. Plus, they offer: $20 off $200 and 10% off for joining 42 Birds’ email list.
If you struggle with foot pain, trigger point therapy may be a good go-to treat for yourself at the end of a long day on your feet. From my experience, this is a personal choice based on comfort and effectiveness, so browse the options online to choose a product that works best for you.
By far one of my favorite investments in my own health has been in the R8 massager. I was introduced to this product by my massage therapist years ago and after one session with it purchased my own. Its revolutionary design incorporates an integrated spring configuration, stainless steel hardware fasteners, ball bearings and soft-touch handles.
While it may look like a modern-day torture device, it’s relieved a tremendous amount of pain and tightness for me over the years due to its easy-to-use design and the fact that I can apply as much or as little pressure as I need without having to contort my body into uncomfortable positions on top of a foam roller. I can get the relief I need while sitting on the couch or even in bed.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention tools for temperature therapy—alternating between hot and cold to soothe sore or tired muscles and to promote recovery. Using one or the other (or even both) has different applications and benefits for pain relief, shortening downtime after injury, reducing inflammation and overall self-soothing and stress relief.
The TheraICE Rx Compression Sleeve provides immediate relief, whether you need heat or cooling therapy. This sleeve is great because it can be worn while doing other activities, stays in place and offers gentle compression, which is critical in the healing process. I found a lot of relief using the Wrist Ice Pack after I strained my wrist carrying my toddler incorrectly a few months ago. Adjustable for different body areas (knee, elbow, thigh, ankle, etc.), this sleeve quickly cools in under two hours in the freezer and heats in less than a minute in the microwave.
The journey to wellness is a personal one—and one only you can take. It took me years to compile the right mix of tools, products and practices, and that mix changes on a regular basis. At the end of the day, it’s about finding what makes you feel happy and lowers your stress levels so you can continue providing the best care for your loved one.