Although caregivers report enriched lives and improved relationships because of their role in caring for loved ones, research repeatedly shows caregivers face significant health risks and increased stress.
Whether living with, near or far away from your loved one, you may still experience some of the physical, emotional and social impacts of caregiving. These include high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, greater chance for depression and social isolation, amongst others.
Caregivers often find themselves so consumed with caring for their loved ones, they neglect their own health – smoking more, exercising less, not getting enough sleep, eating irregularly or not having time to prepare nutritious meals, and more. These factors combine, leading to greater stress and negative effects on overall health.
Bottom line, take care of yourself! Caregivers first need to care for themselves—however difficult—otherwise, you won’t be able to care for others.
The good news is, there’s support out there for caregivers, too, and it takes many forms. Think about accepting offers of help from others, make time for your own respite, carve out opportunities for regular exercise, make and keep regular preventative doctor appointments, find time for friends, pursue your favorite hobbies, and seek out mental health supports.
Many national and local organizations offer caregivers resources and information geared to helping you avoid potential pitfalls, better juggle stress and your family life, and access the support you need to continue your care.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Family Care Navigator
Need help to stop smoking or tobacco use? Visit Easterseals.com/stopsmoking
National Family Caregiver Support Program
For information on state and local contacts for the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which may provide funding for respite primarily for the aging population, and other critical family caregiver support services, http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx check the Eldercare Locator.
Veteran Caregiver Support Program
If you are a veteran or the family caregiver for a veteran, please contact the VA's Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.
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