Family Caregivers: Send Yourself a Valentine of Self-Care

Dr. Macie Smith discusses the importance of family caregivers, particularly those of the sandwich generation, loving themselves this Valentine’s Day.

When it comes to caring for a family member, you are the most important part of the equation. That’s because you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you aren’t in top form, you won’t be able to put your best self forward. That’s where self-love comes in. Here are four steps you can take to prioritize your own care in order to care for others.

Acknowledge that practicing self-care is the first step in mastering self-love.

Loving yourself – and acting on it – is an act of kindness that you deserve. As the invaluable instrument of care for your loved ones, you must stay sharp and tuned up to optimize the care you give to others. In other words, it is imperative that you present with the healthiest form of yourself. You need to ensure that your mind, body and soul are at the top of your list and that you come before anyone or anything else.

Plan what that looks like “In Real Life.”

Identify the self-care activities or opportunities that you enjoy, that lift you up, that fulfill you. Whether that means taking a walk, talking to a friend, watching a movie or spending time doing a hobby, actively incorporate these activities into your daily schedule. Make them non-negotiable. This may be hard in the beginning, because you may not be used to taking “me” time. But after a while, it will become routine and a regular part of your day.

Be in the moment.

When you are engaged in your non-negotiable self-care, focus on what you are experiencing in the present. Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what you have to do tomorrow. Don’t multitask. Take in your surroundings. Tap into your feelings. Appreciate what is happening. These are the times that will fill you up and sustain you so make the most of them.

Manage your own healthcare.

Remember, in order to care for others, you need to prioritize taking care of yourself. Make your health a priority. Stay on top of annual check-ins with your primary care provider, schedule your annual screenings, and see a therapist, if necessary. Being healthy in body and mind will make you enjoyable to be around.

Once you take care of yourself, you can show up as the best version of yourself and provide the best care possible to your loved one.

Following these four steps is a commitment to self-love you can make not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round!

Dr. Macie P. Smith is a licensed gerontology social worker who is focused on helping families support their aging loved ones through long-term care. Specifically, Dr. Smith educates caregivers on how to care for seniors with dementia. She is an advocate for specialized care and assists others in finding a way to provide a better quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Smith has dedicated over 22 years of her life working in gerontology and assisting families in finding personalized solutions for dementia care. For more articles by Dr. Macie Smith, go to


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