Taking Care of Yourself
Caring for yourself is one of the most important-and one of the most often forgotten-things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too.
Family caregivers of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior. Regardless of age, sex, and race and ethnicity, caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing caregiving responsibilities. They report:
Family caregivers are also at increased risk for excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and for depression. Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, caring for your family member demonstrates love and commitment and can be a very rewarding personal experience. On the other hand, exhaustion, worry, inadequate resources and continuous care demands are enormously stressful. Studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.
Taking Responsibility for Your Own Care
You cannot stop the impact of a chronic or progressive illness or a debilitating injury on someone for whom you care. Nevertheless, there is a great deal that you can do to take responsibility for your personal well-being and to get your own needs met.
The first task in removing personal barriers to self-care is to identify what is in your way. For example,
Once you've started to identify any personal barriers to good self-care, you can begin to change your behavior, moving forward one small step at a time. You are responsible for your own self-care. Focus on the following self-care practices: