Managing Caregiver Stress

    Even a few hours “off duty” can help you recharge. Make a list of family, friends, or neighbors to call when you need a break. Insurance may pay for a home health aide. Adult day care centers can give you a breather while your loved one enjoys some social activity. Your local Area Agency on Aging can tell you where to find help. Hospice programs provide support for terminally ill people and their families.

    Make It a Team Effort

    Hold regular “family meetings” to discuss the latest medical news, daily caregiving needs, financial concerns, and your need for support. These meetings should include everyone who might be involved in caring for your loved one, including paid caregivers. Connect distant family members through a speaker phone or online video chat. Follow up with a written agreement and a calendar of tasks.

    Take Time for You

    It’s easy to get burned out when caring for a loved one, whether it’s a special-needs child, a spouse with a chronic illness, or a frail older person. Taking time for yourself everyday — even just a few minutes — is one way to help you recharge. Try yoga before breakfast, slip out for a 20-minute walk, go to the movies, or pursue any hobby you love. Reducing your stress will make you a better caregiver.

    Get Enough Sleep

    Most caregivers who say their own health has gotten worse blame loss of sleep. Relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, may help you at bedtime. If your loved one sleeps during the day but is awake much of the night, try to take naps. You may need to hire an aide or ask a friend or relative to stay with your loved one overnight so you can get a good night’s sleep.

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