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Caregiver Tips -

Be the Best Caregiver You Can Be

Taking care of yourself is your most important step as a caregiver. Caregivers are more likely than those who are not caregivers to be at risk for colds and the flu and also chronic illness, such as heart disease, diabetes.

On the other hand, when caregivers take time to care for themselves:
  • They stay healthier.
  • They feel better about themselves.
  • They have more energy and enthusiasm and can keep giving care.
Get some exercise. You may feel better and sleep better if you exercise  45 minutes or more throughout your day.
Eat healthy meals and snacks.
Get enough sleep. If you are not getting enough sleep at night, take a nap during the day.
Make time for an activity you enjoy-reading, listening to music, painting or doing crafts, playing an instrument.
Get regular medical checkups. This includes dental checkups. Even if you have always been healthy, you need to stay healthy.

Signs of caregiver stress

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don't realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. It's important to acknowledge and accept what you're feeling, both good and bad. Don't beat yourself up over your doubts and misgivings. These feelings don't mean that you don't love your family member—they simply mean you're human.

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 What you may feel about being a caregiver
  • Anxiety and worry – You may worry about how you will handle the additional responsibilities of caregiving and what will happen to your family member if something happens to you. You may also fear what will happen in the future as your loved one’s illness progresses.
  • Anger or resentment – You may feel angry or resentful toward the person you’re caring for, even though you know it’s irrational. Or you might be angry at the world in general, or resentful of other friends or family members who don’t have your responsibilities.
  • Guilt – You may feel guilty for not doing more, being a "better" caregiver, having more patience, accepting your situation with more equanimity, or in the case of long distance caregiving, not being available more often.
  • Grief – There are many losses that can come with caregiving (the healthy future you envisioned with your spouse or child; the goals and dreams you’ve had to set aside). If the person you’re caring for is terminally ill, you’re also dealing with that grief.