The demands of caregiving can strain even the most resilient person, so it’s important to take care of yourself.
To help manage the stress of caregiving:
• Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, a friend or family member may be able to run an errand, pick up your groceries or cook for you.
• Focus on what you are able to provide. It's normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
• Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Begin to say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
• Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Services such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping may be available.
• Join a support group. A support group can provide validation, encouragement and problem-solving strategies. People in support groups understand what you are going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships.
• Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it's just a walk with a friend.
• Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
• See your doctor. Get recommended vaccinations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you're a caregiver. Don't hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.