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Caregiver Stress

By Kathy Bosworth
(Page 2 of 2)

Here are some tips that I have found to be helpful in  getting your life in balance again.

  • When well-meaning people offer to help, accept  their help.  Be specific in things you could use help  with.  Now is not the time to show the world how  strong you are.  You will only burn out quicker  without help.

  • Watch out for signs of depression.   Get professional help if you need to.

  • Educate yourself about your loved oneís condition.  Information is empowering!

  • Trust your gut feelings.  Iím a firm believer in our  innate instincts.  If something sounds out of whack to you, keep asking questions until you are satisfied that the best care is being administered.

  • Find other caregivers to connect with.  There are many caregiver websites and support groups that can be found.  If there are none in your area, start  your own.  Believe me, you need somebody to talk to that understands what you are going through.

  • Be kind to yourself.  Even if you only take a ten-minute walk around the block to alleviate some stress, DO IT.  A caregiver with a lower stress level  makes a much better caregiver.  Getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating balanced meals reduces  stress.

  • If you are caring for a parent and have siblings, be vocal about what they can do to help.  Some people are not comfortable with the day-to-day care but  they might be willing to grocery shop for you, pick up meds, or do a doctorís run or two.  Donít be a martyr.  Your emotional health cannot take it.  Face it and get on with it.

  • Take charge of your life and continue to do things that you find relaxing or pleasurable.  If a loved     oneís disability always takes center stage instead of your needs, you will become a resentful caregiver. Not good for anyone.

  • Write down things to keep your head uncluttered. Having ongoing lists of medications your loved  one is taking will not only alleviate the stress of  trying to remember what and when, but it is also a valuable tool when visiting the doctor.  Itís all written out and accessible.  Doctors are often rushed  and cannot wait around while you try to remember which meds are causing what side effects, etc.  Keep  it simple and easy on yourself in ways that you can.

  • Keep your sense of humor.  Itís the most important  tool you have and itís free.  Humor can be found in the most surprising places, even  hospitals and nursing homes.  Laughter is good for the soul.

  • Know your limitations!   Donít let guilt get in the way of making the best decision for your family  member and yourself.  Not everyone can be a caregiver no matter how good their intentions might  be.   If you cannot be a caregiver due to an emotional, physical, financial or locational burden, you do have choices.  You cannot help another if you yourself need help.   The medical  needs might warrant the need for assisted living or long term care.   If you must find alternative living arrangements, make sure they are ones you can live with and serve the best interest of your loved one!  Stay involved and vigilant that  the care remains good.

Caregiving is a huge responsibility.  Keeping the caregiver healthyó physically, mentally, and emotionally ó is vital.  Try to find the right balance in your life that allows you to care for your loved one while caring for yourself.

Other helpful websites for caregivers:

Family Caregiver Alliance:  www.caregiver.org
National Family Caregivers Association:  www.nfcacares.org
National Alliance for Caregiving:  www.caregiving.org
Todayís Caregiver:  www.caregiver.com
 

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