For caregivers: Getting the care you need, now more than ever
Health experts remind us to maintain self-care, seek attention for health emergencies and keep up with regular care and health check-ups, but what do you do if you are a caregiver to an adult or child with special needs due to chronic and/or debilitating illness or disability?
Frequently, we see and hear from patients who act as caregivers due to circumstance, need and/or love. Some are struggling to maintain balance between their own physical and emotional health with that of the person they are taking care of. It’s very concerning when caregivers delay attending to, or altogether ignore, their own medical needs. This can result in worsening existing or new health issues. From an emotional standpoint, caregivers may feel overwhelmed, stressed, angry and depressed. Caregivers need to know that it’s not okay to ignore their own health needs and that it is okay to express their frustrations and feelings.
Scheduling an in-office or virtual visit with your primary care provider and talking openly with him or her is a good place to start. Not only should your doctor be familiar with your medical history, but it’s also important for them to know what else is going on in your life — like being a caregiver — that may affect your overall health. Open up and be specific about how you are feeling emotionally and physically without fear of being judged. That way, your provider can best provide useful tips for caring for yourself and guide you to resources dedicated to caregivers.
Here are a few tips to support your physical and emotional health:
- Schedule your own medical appointments that require an in-office visit well in advance, so you can arrange for an alternate caregiver if necessary. Make sure to schedule routine exams and flu shots.1
- Don’t do it alone. Stay in touch with friends and loved ones via video chats, email, texting and even good old fashioned phone calls.1 Don’t be afraid to ask for help; reach out to a professional or join a support group.3
- Schedule routine “me time.” Take a break from caregiving every now and then. Meet with friends, read a book, meditate,.1,3
- Make time for healthy lifestyle habits. Join an exercise or yoga class, cook a healthy meal, and get enough sleep.1,2,3
- Explore the many caregiver resources and support groups for information that can help you as well as the person you are caring for. You can find resources for caregivers through the National Institutes of Health website, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, gov, and caregiver.org.
The information featured in this site is general in nature. The site provides health information designed to complement your personal health management. It does not provide medical advice or health services and is not meant to replace professional advice or imply coverage of specific clinical services or products. The inclusion of links to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such websites.
- Caregiver Self-Care: Caring for You. https://www.caregiver.org/resource/caregiver-self-care-caring-you/?via=caregiver-resources,all-resources. Accessed May 30, 2023.
- Caregiver Health. https://medlineplus.gov/caregiverhealth.html. Last updated May 26, 2020. Accessed May 30, 2023.
- A Guide to Taking Care of Yourself. https://www.caregiver.org/resource/guide-taking-care-yourself. Accessed May 30, 2023.
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