Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

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Take Care of Your Own Health Needs

You cannot help others unless your own needs are met. Make sure that you are sleeping and eating well, staying hydrated, and taking time to exercise. Also, make sure to stay on top of your own doctor's appointments, including annual exams, mammograms, colonoscopies, and other screenings your doctor prescribes. 

Accept Help

When a friend or family member asks if there's anything they can do to help, accept it, even if you feel like you have things under control at the moment. And instead of saying, "oh, that would be great," give them a tangible thing to do: coming over for weekly visits, picking up groceries, or cooking a meal are all things that will allow the helper to participate in the care and will give you a break. 

Find a Support System 

AARP website for ways to connect with other caregivers in your community. You can connect with caregiver support groups or other local resources, like eldercare attorneys. 

Stay Organized

With whatever way works best for you, using technology or a physical system, make sure to keep an appointment calendar, list of medications, emergency contacts, and questions/notes accessible. Having everything updated and readily available can prevent stress. Also, make sure to write down any questions you or your loved one has before going to doctor's appointments. 

Be Kind To Yourself

Even the most strong-willed and organized person is susceptible to caregiver burnout. And especially if you're not also a trained healthcare worker, there are going to be real limitations to what you can do. All of that is okay and is to be expected. You cannot be everything to everyone else and also yourself! Showing kindness to yourself can look like acknowledging that you are doing your best, meditation, or warm baths to getting a home health aide or bringing your loved one to an adult day center. 

Caregiving can be difficult work, emotionally and physically. You will be able to provide the best care for your loved one when you are also taking care of yourself.