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Illnesses and Disabilities
Did you know that 52 million Americans are providing unpaid care for an adult with an illness or disability? And about 59 percent to 75 percent of caregivers are women.
If you provide care for someone with an illness or disability, you might have found caregiving to be rewarding at times. But it also can take a toll on you. You probably give up some of your free time to care for your loved one, leaving you with little time for yourself. Making time to take care of yourself is important for your own health and ensures that you will be able to care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help you reduce your stress and take better care of yourself:
- Find out about caregiving resources in your community, such as meal delivery, transportation, day care centers, and respite care services.
- Ask for and accept help.
- Say "no" to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
- Make to-do lists and decide which items you need to take care of first.
- Follow a regular, daily routine.
- Don't feel guilty that you are not a "perfect" caregiver. Just as there is no "perfect parent," there is no such thing as a "perfect caregiver." You're doing the best you can.
- Stay in touch with friends and family. Social activities can help you stay connected and may reduce stress.
- Join a support group for caregivers in your situation (like caring for a person with spinal cord injury). Many support groups can be found in the community or on the Internet.
- Try to find time to be physically active, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep.
- See your doctor for routine checkups. Talk to her or him about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
- Make time each week to do something that you want to do, such as going to a movie.
- Take one day at a time.
Keep in mind, taking better care of yourself will help you feel better and make you a better caregiver for your loved one.
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More information on Caregiver support
Read more from womenshealth.gov
- Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides tips for relieving the stress of caregivers, as well as types of support that are available.
Explore other publications and websites
- Bedsores (Pressure Sores) (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) - This fact sheet describes the signs and symptoms of bedsores, as well as the risk factors, causes, and compilations of having bedsores. It also reviews treatment options of bedsores.
- Caregiving Across the States: Publicly Funded Programs (Copyright © Family Caregiver Alliance) - This website offers information about caregiver support programs available nationwide. It includes programs funded by the National Family Caregiver Support Program, aged/disabled Medicaid waivers, and state funded programs.
- Caregiving Resources - This resource list includes national organizations that can link you to local resources and support groups for family caregivers.
- Caring for Someone After a Stroke (Copyright © American Heart Association) - This fact sheet provides information on what a caregiver's role is when caring for someone who has had a stroke. It also provides information on where to go for help if you are feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving responsibilities.
- Caring for Someone With Alzheimer's - This publication provides information on caring for someone that has Alzheimer's disease. It provides care instructions for different settings, as well as safety and support issues to consider when caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease.
- Dementia: Info and Advice for Caregivers (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) - This fact sheet provides information on dementia, behavioral problems common with this condition, and how to care for someone with dementia.
- Dental Care Everyday: A Caregiver's Guide - This guide for caregivers provides information on the steps they can take to ensure proper dental care for their family members or clients.
- Medicare Basics: A Guide for Families and Friends of People With Medicare - This brochure provides caregivers of Medicare recipients with general information on Medicare. It explains what Medicare is and what it covers. The brochure also provides information on seeking a second opinion, coverage options, and statements and bills.
- National Family Caregiver Support Program - This site provides information, assistance, and support to caregivers.
- Resources for Individuals, Families, and Caregivers - This list of resources includes publications that can help your family prepare for emergencies. It also provides useful resources to help individuals and families after they have experienced an emergency or disaster.
- Road to Recovery (Copyright © American Cancer Society) - Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer and do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.
- Senior Citizens' Resources - This site is geared specifically toward seniors and provides links to many topics of concern for seniors.
- Skin (Pressure) Sores (Copyright © American Cancer Society) - This online fact sheet provides information for caregivers on skin sores that are common in people who are bedridden or in a wheelchair. It describes what to look for and what the patient and caregiver can do to prevent them.
- So Far Away: Twenty Questions for Long Distance Caregivers - This booklet provides brief answers to 20 commonly asked questions about long-distance caregiving. More sources of information are also provided.
Connect with other organizations
Content last updated: September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated: September 23, 2013.
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