Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I have a family member or friend for whom I provide some assistance?
  • Do I find myself worrying about this person’s health or safety?
  • Do I feel an obligation or commitment to check out if they need shopping, medication, a ride, or assistance with home chores?

A ‘yes’ to any of these means that you can count yourself in the growing ranks of care givers. Yes, its providing care to a loved one, and many millions do it, but too often one critical responsibility is overlooked. Look in the mirror. This is the face of the person whose care is critical in the provision of assistance to another. If you overlook this, the quality of the care you give or the length of time you can sustain it, will surely decline.

The following tips will guide you in providing the best care possible, and in doing so, you may find your burden lightening. Five years from now, when you look back, you will see you did everything you could to ensure your health, which allowed you the emotional and physical energy to sustain your caregiving.

  • T rust others’ offers to assist you
  • A rm yourself with medical and other care-related information
  • K eep up with your own medical needs
  • E xercise and eat well.
  • C reate a support network with whom you can share, laugh and cry
  • A llow yourself to use outside resources-in-home care , adult day, respite care, personal coach
  • R ecognize the signs of stress and depression, and seek help if needed
  • E ngage in a new activity, like yoga or painting, just for you!
  • O pen your home to friends and family
  • F amily traditions are a must, but let others help out
  • S implify daily routines and organize schedules
  • E ncourage input from person you are caring for
  • L isten to your heart
  • F acilitate family meetings to coordinate care responsibilities

If you do nothing else, cut these tips out and keep them with you. Caring for yourself is the most important part of caring for a loved one.

By Sylvia Nissenboim