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Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself!

Laura Himmelstein, Clinical Social Worker

November 27, 2018

Caregiver, Take Care of Yourself!

November is the time to acknowledge the contributions of family members who provide care for loved ones.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to acknowledge all of those people who are giving loving care to those who are dealing with serious and chronic illness. It’s also a time to remember that taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.  Without paying attention to your own emotional, spiritual and physical foundation, you will not have the reserve to be able to care for others.

So what can a caregiver do? Here are some suggestions:              

  • Take some time for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time, but identify what you need to find even a moment of joy and make time for that. 
  • Ask for help.  No one can do this alone.  Make a list and be specific in the type of help that you need.  People respond to structure and tasks and typically want to help. 
  • Try to find a support group in your area, as finding out that others experience similar emotions and challenges can be helpful and validating. Hospitals often offer support groups and other resources.
  • Even though there are many challenges in caregiving, take some time to find the benefits and joys.  People report finding a level of purpose, meaning and relationship that they would not have had, if not for their caregiving role.  Being able to find the positive in a difficult and challenging situation helps to change our internal thoughts and emotions and create a better felt sense of self.
  • Recognize that some days will be harder than others. Remind yourself that you are doing the best in the moment with the resources you have.
  • Understand that anger and frustration often accompany overwhelming demands. Find healthy ways to de-fuse that may work for you: meditation, exercise, going for a walk, read a book, go to a movie, talk to a friend, relative or therapist. 

And if you are not a caregiver yourself, but know someone who is, honor them with a night out, a home-cooked meal, or a frequent phone call. Let them know you care and are there for them.

If you are a caregiver, give yourself a moment to know that what you are doing is challenging yet so very important and not to be borne entirely alone.

Thank A Caregiver Today!

The Family Caregiver Alliance has posted A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. Well worth a read.

Laura Himmelstein is the Coordinator of the Caregiver Support Program and the Healing Touch Program at White Plains Hospital. To Find out more about Caregiver Support Program Services, call 914-681-2721.


Similar Topics: caregiving, self-care,