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Caring for the Caregiver

POSTED BY: Donny Hodges

Being a caregiver is one of the most difficult and stressful times in someone’s life. Often times issues arise that one would have never expected. Many Caregivers experience a multitude of issues that sometimes include conflicts between family members, partner or spousal disagreements, and of course, the underlying fact that the patient you are caring for is often terminal. There is a cardinal rule in caring for a loved: If you aren’t taking care of yourself, then you aren’t really able to take great care of someone else. The family member who serves as the caregiver often puts their loved one’s needs above their own. At some point, the family member burns out and starts experiencing healthcare issues of their own. Dr. Jason Salagubang with the Florida Hospital Apopka Comprehensive Aging Assessment Center (CAAC) says that remembering the following advice can help you take better care you and your loved one.

 How can I reduce my level of stress?

In general, there are many simple things you can do to reduce your stress level, improve your health and your quality of life. Simple things such as drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will help to reduce your stress. Some exercise will also help, even just going for a walk.

I miss doing the things that used to make me happy.

Caregivers must make time for the things that they love. Including simple things like going for a walk, spending time with friends, and just going on a date with their spouse or partner.

I often do not understand when my family isn’t willing to help me out?

Many caregivers often feel that other family members are either unable or unwilling to help them with the care of the loved one. The best thing to do is communicate effectively with your family members and let them know that you have a life too and that scheduling “help” would be greatly appreciated. Also, let them know how even little things like handling one of the doctor appointments or offering an evening out can make a huge difference in the caregiver’s stress level.

Are there programs out there that will help me deal with the stress?

At the CAAC, our main objective is to provide you with peace of mind and additional information that will be valuable to improve you or your loved one’s overall well being. We offer a comprehensive treatment program to help caregivers deal with the extreme stress they experience.

Ultimately, the caregiver has to understand that we all need “me” time and neglecting it could lead to depression and the deterioration of his or her own health. Please remember to maintain preventative treatments and keep regular doctors’ appointments. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a short break throughout the day to clear your head. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a relative or friend in order to get some time away to recharge. If you don't take care of yourself and stay well, you won't be able to help anyone else.