"The care you give your self is the care you give to your loved one." This is a quote from a caregiver. Seventy-five percent of caregivers in America are women, some are taking care of spouses/partners, some adult children taking care of parents, some parents taking care of adult children. So how do you take care of yourself as a caregiver and what does that mean?
Support. Say YES to offers of help when they come. Support groups can give an important source of understanding and connection. Talk to friends, family or professionals and take walks, breaks, and try not to withdraw.
Guilt. There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver. It’s not selfish to think about yourself and your needs too. Feelings of getting frustrated or angry are okay and a way to know how well you are coping.
Set Limits. Ask for help. Learn to say no to requests that are draining rather than nurturing. You can still make choices about your life and what is right for you.
Your Body. Know the limits of your endurance and strength. Exhaustion is a major cause of illness and stress in caregivers. Talk to your doctor about medication for either yourself or your loved one to help sleep through the night.
Education. Contact someone who can help you connect with community resources and use them. You can’t know it all, but you can learn all you can about the illness you are dealing with to understand what is happening.
Emotional Health and Taking a Break. Without breaks it’s easy to become overwhelmed and you will experience burn out. Look to other family members to relieve you. Having a life and outside connections helps you maintain perspective. Find daily ways to refresh your spirit even with little pleasures that can make you happy.