Caregivers often report stress, loss of sleep, and poor personal health. Experts suggest these four strategies that can help you take care of yourself, as well as others.
1) Take care of your own health. Managing your own health is important to make sure you are healthy enough to help others. Eat properly, get regular exercise, and set aside some time each week to do something you enjoy. Continue to get regular check-ups and see your doctor if you experience any health problems.
2) Make connections with others. Sharing experiences with others can help caregivers manage stress, reduce feelings of isolation, and recognize that they are not alone. Caregivers should find someone they can talk to about their feelings, like a fellow caregiver, clergy, friend, family member, or therapist. Go to Ask Medicare for links to messages boards, discussion groups, and forums.
3) Ask for help. Speak up when you need support or assistance. Help can come from community resources, family, friends, and professionals. Consider getting help to manage meals, transportation, social activities, and services to assist with other daily needs.
4) Identify local support services. Local agencies can connect you to services and benefits such as adult day care, respite care (temporary breaks for caregivers), training programs, and caregiver support groups both in your community and on the Internet.
Are you one of the nearly 66 million Americans who care for an aging, seriously ill, or disabled family member or friend? If so, you know that a typical day can involve everything from preparing meals and running errands, to getting answers to questions about Medicare coverage, to searching for the best long-term care. With this in mind, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created Ask Medicare–a one-stop resource for information and support for caregivers just like you.