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By Mary Damiano
Recharging your batteries is one of
the most important ways to help your loved one.
R: Rest. One of the most important things a caregiver
can do for the person theyíre caring for is to take care
of themselves. A caregiver who wears himself out, and
keeps going 24/7 risks burnout.
E: Eat right. Take a cue from your loved oneís diet and
take the opportunity to eat healthy things as well.
Maybe you donít have to adhere to such a strict diet,
but eating right certainly never hurts.
C: Communicate your needs to others. Donít expect
anyone, even other family members to read your mind
about what you need or what your loved one needs. Let
people around you know the things that need to be done
and that occasionally; even you could use a hand.
H: Hydrate. Drink lots of water. Water hydrates your
body and keeps you energized.
Take vitamins if you donít get enough nutrition from
A: Accept help. This can be the hardest thing for the
caregiver to do, but itís one of the best things a
caregiver can do for their loved one and for themselves.
When people offer to help, often caregivers turn them
down because they donít want to burden them or because
they canít think of something off the top of their
heads. Get over the notion that the only way to get it
done is to do it yourself. When you have a few moments,
really think about the kinds of things that will make
life a little easier. Then when people ask how they can
help, youíll be ready. When you tell someone something
very specific, theyíre more comfortable doing it, and
youíll get the help you need. Helping makes people feel
good about themselves. Donít deprive anyone of that joy.
R: Respite. Caregivers should make a point of getting
away sometimes, to take a mini-respite for themselves. A
movie, lunch somewhere, window shopping or just walking
along the beach or through a park can be enough to get
some distance, and come back with a fresh perspective on
G: Get enough sleep. This is often the hardest one to
manage because youíre on someone elseís schedule. But
sleep is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
Eight hours are ideal, but the concept of getting eight
uninterrupted hours of sleep might be impossible. Try
breaking sleep up. Get what you can in one shot, but
take a nap during the day. A short nap can be very
refreshing and just the thing you need to get you
through the day.
E: Exercise. Anything will help. Walk around the block a
few times a day when you have a few spare minutes. Try
yoga, something that will exercise your muscles, yet
relax your mind. Meditate. Spend a few minutes alone and