How can I take care of myself while taking care of my loved one?
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Last Update: August 16, 2006
Remember: your needs are important too! Caring for a loved one is an emotional task and caregivers commonly feel sadness, frustration, resentment, anxiety, anger and guilt. As a result of stress, many caregivers suffer from depression and their own physical ailments. It is important that you take time to take care of yourself —even if it is only a few moments here and there. Some tips:
- Eat well and get enough sleep. Common sense? Maybe. But when you are busy and stressed, it is easy to neglect the basics.
- Breathe. Deep breathing exercises and meditation can permanently change your physical responses to stress. Practicing 20 minutes a day can make the difference.
- Exercise. Taking time to exercise can also alleviate stress and help keep you healthy.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no. Realizing your own limitations can make you more productive in the long run.
- Ask for help. Many caregivers think they have to shoulder the burden alone. Enlist the assistance of family members and friends.
- Plan for respite care. You may need a few days’ break (respite). If friends or family cannot fill in, respite care services may be available in the community. Under certain circumstances, Medicare will pay for a limited amount of respite care.
- Make time for fun. Do not turn down invitations from friends. If you take time to talk and laugh, it can help keep life in perspective.
- Be aware of the signs of caregiver burnout. It is time to take a break if you are feeling constantly irritated; ceasing to laugh; snapping at your loved one over little things; having crying fits or rages; or developing stress-related ailments, such as headaches, upset stomach or insomnia.
- Join support groups. You are not alone in your experiences. Finding out how other people have coped may be helpful.
- Do not neglect your health. Remember to see your doctor for routine check-ups and recommended screenings. And stay on top of managing any chronic health conditions you may have, such as diabetes.
To find out what groups exist specifically to help caregivers, click on the NEXT button.
To find out how to get in touch with other caregivers, and how you can take a break from caregiving, click on the links in the GO TO box
It is not unusual for caregivers to develop depression from the demanding schedule of daily care. For information on caregiving and depression and where you can go for help, click on the link in the GO TO box.