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Caregiver support

in a clinical setting, one man offering support to an elderly man in pajamas and walking with crutches
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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.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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