Tips for Caregivers to Stay Healthy

Reviewed Nov 11, 2021

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Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy and anger that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life. Friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy and anger that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life. Friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

Summary

  • Ask for help and support.
  • Get organized.
  • Seek out and use resources.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Try these tips to prevent the physical and emotional drain often linked to caregiving. Besides staying healthy, you will also be a better caregiver to your loved one.

Ask for help

Don’t assume that others will offer. Instead, list the tasks that you do that can be done by someone else, such as running errands, shuttling to doctors’ appointments, cooking meals and visiting. Ask family members, neighbors and friends for help with specific tasks. For example:

  • To an out-of-town sibling: “Can you drive down one weekend in June to watch Dad so that I can take the boys camping?”
  • To a friend: “Would you mind reading the newspaper to my mother for about an hour while I go to the grocery store?”

Seek support

Knowing that you’re not in it alone can be a source of relief, can help you to keep things in perspective and keep up a good attitude. You may want to meet regularly with a friend or join a support group, which can offer:

  • An empathetic and nonjudgmental setting for sharing feelings such as guilt, frustration, impatience, inadequacy and anger that people who are not in your situation may not understand
  • Support to tackle the duties and hard choices involved in caregiving
  • Advice and education on aging or for specific diseases or conditions
  • A chance to laugh and let go of stress through humor

Talking to a professional, such as a clergy member, a social worker or a counselor can also be valuable.

Get organized

Getting organized will help you to feel in control. It involves:

  • Setting priorities, which should include time for yourself, your family and your job
  • Setting limits: realize that you cannot do it all. Learn to say “no” to your loved one without apology. Limit your commitment, leaving other family members accountable for some aspects of caregiving.
  • Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and your loved one
  • Eliminating unnecessary tasks

Seek out and use resources

Or be creative—maybe you can hire the teenager next door to run errands. Here are some ideas:

  • Local Area Agency on Aging
  • In-home care/respite care services
  • Adult day-care programs
  • Senior centers
  • Personal emergency response system
  • Friendly visitor programs, typically offered through places of worship, schools and volunteer organizations
  • Errand and shopping services
  • Transportation services

The Eldercare Locator is a national service that connects families with many types of aging services in their community.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest will keep you physically and emotionally healthy. Visit your doctor on a routine basis and keep up with important screenings. Avoid drinking alcohol as a way to cope with the stress of caregiving and keep a look out for symptoms of depression.

Make time for yourself

Hobbies, sports, books, music, a relaxing bath—such activities help release tension. If you have trouble walking away, consider scheduling “me” time and honor the engagement as if it were an important appointment. Keep up your social life. Friends are not only a source of support, but also a source of stress-busting fun.

By Christine P. Martin
Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org; AARP, www.aarp.org; Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How to Help, How to Survive by Claire Berman. Henry Holt, 1996; Fourteen Friends' Guide to Eldercaring by Fourteen Friends, LLC. Capital, 1999.

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