Self Care for Caregivers

A caregiver is described as someone who provides help and assistance to an individual in need, such as an aging relative, an ill partner, or disabled person. People who often fall in the description as “caregiver” do not recognize their role as that. With caregiving, comes a shift in roles and emotions. Feelings of anger, exhaustion, depression, and frustration are common.

As a caregiver, the physical and emotional demands involved with that of caregiving can put a strain on the most resilient person. If you do not take care of yourself, you will be unable to care for anyone else.

To help manage the stress of being a caregiver:

  • Research the disease or disability that your loved one currently experiences. It is important to know what they are experiencing now and what they will experience in the future with it. The important thing to keep in mind is that the more you know, the more you will be able to plan and be prepared.
  • Make yourself a priority by taking care of yourself. Watch to make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep. Make sure you don’t neglect yourself when it comes to your healthcare while caring for your loved one.
  • There are great resources out in the community. Allow these services to help you. There are resources to help such as support groups, day care programs, paratransit, and Meals on Wheels.
  • Finding humor is a great way to cope with the overwhelming emotions that caregiving can bring.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver. Remember to forgive yourself often. We all make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and be the best that you can be.
  • It is vital to take a rest from caregiving. Attempt to get out on your own and have some fresh air. Every caregiver needs to take a break from anything related to caregiving to clear their mind and reset.
  • Get support by attending a support group. These groups are a great way to talk through things you are experiencing with other individuals in the same situation. You do not have to go through the burden of caregiving alone.
  • If you are caring for someone with dementia, learn communication and behavioral management skills in helping them. Your job of caregiving will be a lot easier if you know how to communicate with them. You can take a class locally or research this topic online. 
  • Ask for help and accept it when it is offered by someone.
  • Set realistic goals that you can do one at a time. Establish a daily routine and learn when to say no to certain requests by others.
  • If you work outside the home and you are a caregiver, research the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. This may allow you to take an unpaid leave from your job.

You are doing one of the most difficult jobs that there is. These tips are practical, but you may find them also to be difficult. Caring for yourself is part of the job description when it comes to caregiving.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns that you may have.

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