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Almost one in three adults in the United States are caregivers, providing care to another person in need – often a loved one. Caregiving can be rewarding but it can also be stressful, bringing about feelings of anxiety, fatigue, sadness and trouble sleeping. The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can be taxing. Here are some tips on how to help manage caregiver stress.
No one is a perfect caregiver. Talk to your loved one’s providers to see what you can do to help care for them. Discuss any challenges or issues you think could arise and create a plan. Your providers may have suggestions or refer you to further resources. It's also okay if you are not able to do it all on your own.
Being a caregiver often means putting another person’s needs above your own. But, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about yourself. Continue to do things you enjoy, whether that’s gardening, watching your favorite TV show or getting together with friends.
Meeting with those in similar circumstances can provide an outlet to discuss difficult situations without judgement. A support group for caregivers includes those that understand the rewards and weight of caring for loved ones, which helps to know you’re not alone.
Because so much of a their time and energy is spent caring for their loved one family caregivers are less likely to take care of their own physical, mental and emotional needs. It’s important to incorporate healthy meals, physical activity, getting enough sleep and seeing your primary care provider for your annual wellness check into your schedule. Be sure to let your provider know you’re a caregiver to help them best supervise your health.
Talk with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to learn more about ways to manage caregiver stress. The Family Caregivers Center of Mercy also offers free services for caregivers regardless of their hospital or physician affiliation. To learn more about these services visit www.mercycare.org/caregivers/.
Are you a caregiver? Not sure? Find out who is a family caregiver (PDF).