Self-Care for Caregivers: Caring for a Loved One and Yourself
Learn about the mental health effects of being a caregiver and how to prevent the anxiety and stress.
Caring for an elderly loved one is a big responsibility. It might help to know that you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are providing at least some care for the elderly. How can you provide for someone else and care for yourself, too? The tips below can help.
Isolation is one of the biggest problems for caregivers. It's especially tough if your elderly relative is seriously ill. Try to get out and give yourself a break. Can another relative provide some care each week? Or can you pay for a temporary health care worker to take over? You need time to regenerate. You might be better able to cope after an outing to a mall or movie.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the caregiver role. Then you might wonder why no one else offers to help out. Learn now to ask for specific help. Don't say, “I wish someone else would take Mother to the doctor.” Be direct, and say “Mother needs someone to take her to the doctor on Thursday at 1:00. I would appreciate it if you would take her.”
Caregiver support groups can be a great source of encouragement and advice. Ask your doctor, local hospital or public health department for referrals. You’ll get the support of other people who understand what you're going through. And you'll get the benefit of shared experiences and problem solving.
Investigate Day Care
Some communities have day care programs for the elderly. Many programs provide transportation, too. Your relative might like to get out of the house and socialize. And you'll get some relief during the day.
You might feel like you have to do it all. But providing eldercare can sap your inner resources. You might not even realize how drained you are. The stress that results can be uncomfortable for everyone. Make a point of talking regularly to people outside the home. And don’t hesitate to get counseling if you begin to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes just a minor adjustment in your routine can make the difference.
This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice. Only a health care provider can make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral health benefits, you can call the member services or behavioral health telephone number listed on your health care ID card.
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