|Caregivers need TLC, too|
Each year, more than 50 million people in the United States care for an ill, disabled or aging family member or friend—and about 60 percent of these caregivers are women, many of whom also have jobs. Caregiving can impact you both mentally and physically. High stress levels, tight schedules and the demands of your daily to-do list can be overwhelming. What to do? The best way to care for your loved one is to care for yourself as well. Start with these key strategies:
- Get support. Look into organized support groups to talk about your loved one’s specific condition. You may learn some valuable information from others who are experiencing a situation like yours—and venting can be a great stress reliever.
- Say yes to less. Take your friends and neighbors up on their offers to help while they’re out shopping or running errands. If you can swing the cost, hire a handyman to do those odd jobs around the house or enlist an aide or a neighborhood student who can help with light cleaning and laundry.
- Share so they’re aware. At work, talk to your supervisor about your role outside the office. Let him or her know that if you need to adjust your hours or take time off, you’re willing to work earlier or later or will take work home to complete tasks on time.
- Do right by you. It’s important to carve out some personal time. Doing your favorite hobbies, reading, jogging or just taking a bath will help you relax and prepare for the next day’s events.
- Stay informed. Working caregivers often find themselves looking for more time and better ways of managing. The National Institute on Aging has compiled a list of groups that can give you helpful information. Check out www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/caregivingresources.htm.