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Taking care of a loved one?

Thinking about yourself and your future is just as important as considering your loved one’s. Every caregiver should keep these points in mind:

Trust your instincts. Go with what your gut tells you when you’re making a decision for your loved one and yourself. Doing what you feel is right will build confidence, which is essential in coping with the stress of being a caregiver.

Take care of yourself. Make sure that you’re looking out for your own health. If you get rundown or sick, it will only make it harder for you to face the challenges of being a good caregiver. Eat right and try to get enough sleep.

Seek information. You’ll find an enormous amount of information on the Web, which can be overwhelming, so narrow it down by sticking to reliable sources, such as government health agencies that deal with your loved one’s condition. Knowing and understanding the facts comes in handy and can relieve some of the stress when you’re talking with healthcare professionals and other family members.

Be good to your body. As a caregiver, you’re doing extra chores, shopping, transporting and personal care, so there’s a lot of extra lifting, pushing and pulling involved. If you’re feeling tired or achy, focus on the more immediate to-do’s that need your attention. Save your time and energy by letting the smaller things go for now.

Understand your feelings. Taking care of an ill loved one may cause you to feel sadness, anger, worry or anxiety. The truth is that there’s no right way to feel. Give yourself time to let your emotions come and go. However, if you find that your emotions are getting in the way of your daily routine, talk to your healthcare provider or a counselor for advice.