Making time for your health
Are you feeling tired and stressed? Having headaches or back pain? As a caregiver, it’s easy to become so focused on the needs of your loved one that you don’t realize the toll it’s taking on you.
While it’s difficult to find time to care for yourself, it’s so important for your own health and for your ability to help your loved one. Here are ways to make protecting your health a little easier.
Go for your annual checkup—and tell your provider that you’re a caregiver.
This annual visit helps your primary care provider (PCP) focus on keeping you well and preventing future health problems. Let your PCP know that you are a caregiver and share any concerns you have about the physical or emotional stress you are experiencing.
Keep up with preventive care.
Many types of cancer are "silent," meaning you'll have no symptoms until the disease has advanced and is harder to treat. These screenings can find diseases in earlier, more treatable stages and, in some cases, even help prevent them. Ask your PCP which screenings you need. Here are general guidelines based on age and gender.
- Colorectal cancer screening
Everyone ages 45-75
A number of different screening options are available, from a colonoscopy to at-home tests. Ask your PCP what they recommend.
- Breast cancer screening1
Women ages 50-74
The best way to find breast cancer is with a mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast. Talk with your provider about whether you should start having screenings in your 40s. Preventive screening is covered starting at age 40.
- Cervical cancer screening1
Women ages 21-65
A Pap test can find abnormal cells before they turn into cancer or find cancer in its early stages.
Ask your PCP (at your annual checkup) what screenings and tests you should receive. These screenings are often $0 when you see a provider in-network. Ask your provider if the screening is covered at no cost under your plan.
Be active however (and whenever) you can.
Finding time for exercise is a challenge. But being active, even for a short time, can help you feel better and sleep better. Walk, garden, lift weights, do yoga—even just five or 10 minutes at a time. See if you can schedule short activity breaks in your calendar or do them when your loved one is resting.
If you have time for a fitness class, BCBSRI members can take them for free at a Your Blue StoreSM location in Cranston, East Providence, Lincoln, Narragansett, or Warwick. Sign up for a class at bcbsri.com/events.2
Focus on simple, healthy meals.
As a caregiver, you may be making meals for yourself and your loved one—and possibly other family members. That takes a lot of time and energy. If possible, share the shopping, meal prep, and cooking with other family members. These tips can help you prepare healthy meals in less time:
- Decide on your meals and keep a list. See what ingredients you already have and what you need to get at the store.
- When you’re making a recipe, make extra portions for another day or two of meals or to freeze.
- Prep foods that you can easily add to a meal or grab for a snack, such as washed greens for a salad, hardboiled eggs, a bowl of chopped fruit, and cooked beans. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh and are easy to have on hand when needed.
If you’d like help creating an eating plan, take advantage of our Care Management program at no additional cost through your BCBSRI health plan.* You can talk with a Care Manager over the phone, via video, or at a Your Blue Store location. Contact us at 1-844-563-0892 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find member-only deals on meal kits through Blue365.®3
Make sleep a priority.
When there’s so much to do, it’s tempting to cut back on sleep to make more time in the day. But being well rested can help you take care of your loved one—and yourself. Getting a good night’s sleep can help with brain performance and mood, reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and give your body time to repair itself—everything from the immune system to blood vessels.
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1People who are transgender should ask their PCP whether they should have these screenings. Preventive coverage is provided regardless of the gender of the member.
2Not all exercises are suitable for everyone and any exercise program could result in injury. Always consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program, especially if you have an existing health condition.
3© 2000‐ Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) – All Rights Reserved. The Blue365 program is made available by BCBSRI in conjunction with the BCBSA. The BCBSA is an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. Blue365® offers access to savings on items that members may purchase directly from independent vendors, which are different from items that are covered under the policies with BCBSRI, its contracts with Medicare, or any other applicable federal healthcare program. The products and services described herein are neither offered nor guaranteed under BCBSRI’s contract with the Medicare program. In addition, they are not subject to the Medicare appeals process. Any disputes regarding these products and services may be subject to BCBSRI’s grievance process. BCBSA may receive payments from Blue365 vendors. Neither BCBSA nor BCBSRI recommends, endorses, warrants, or guarantees any specific vendor, product, or service available under or through the Blue365 Program.
4Virgin Pulse® is an independent company, contracted by BCBSRI to provide wellness services. Virgin Pulse is available to BCBSRI subscribers (the primary person on the BCBSRI health plan) and their enrolled spouses. Not all employers offer Virgin Pulse through their plan. Standard mobile phone carrier and data usage charges apply. The downloading and use of the Virgin Pulse mobile app is subject to the terms and conditions of the app and the online stores from which it is downloaded. Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Google Play is a trademark of is a trademark of Google Inc.