Family member illnesses can be difficult to deal with in general. Being a primary caregiver often provides an additional set of circumstances for you to manage. One important thing to remember in these situations is that you also need to take care of yourself.
Below are some basic coping tips for caregivers. These basic steps may help ease the responsibilities you face as a caregiver.
- Educate yourself about the disease your family member is facing and how it may affect his or her behavior, pain level, etc.
- Find sources of help for caregiver tasks. Contact family, friends, neighbors, church/synagogue, workplace, Area Agency on Aging or other organizations. Keep looking!
- Protect your personal time for something you enjoy or something you need to get done.
- Try to find time for exercise, eating well and sleeping enough.
- Use your personal network of friends and family for support or find a support group for caregivers of chronically ill or dementia patients in your area.
- Watch out for symptoms of depression (such as crying more, sleeping more or less than usual, increased or decreased appetite or lack of interest in usual activities). Notify your doctor if symptoms of depression are present.
- Consider how you feel and what you will do after the care giving ends.