“The true strength of the American family finds its roots in an unwavering commitment to care for one another.”
— President Barack Obama
The efforts and sacrifices of caregivers are vital to extending the quality of life of loved ones and family friends. However, caregivers need to actively care for their own physical, emotional and mental well-being. Although it may sound simple enough, the first step is to realize help is needed, then ask for it, and finally, accept it when offered.
With more than 65 million people in the U.S. providing care for chronically ill, disabled or aged family members and friends,1 Partners Against Pain is extending its commitment to support caregivers and those being cared for in every way possible. Caring for yourself is the best way to give quality care to those you love.
BELIEVING in yourself
Many caregivers are so busy caring for others that they neglect basic needs for themselves. Everyday tasks that are routinely checked off to-do lists can become enormously challenging when you are doing everything for two. Your commitment doesn't stop at the end of the day, week, or month; take some time to acknowledge that you're both selfless and strong.
Starting today, take a proactive approach and show yourself some appreciation. The importance of reserving time to recharge, refresh and redirect is immeasurable. Whether it's a warm bath, watching a sunset or a movie night out — do something for yourself, and the recipient of your care will ultimately benefit.
PROTECTING your health
As national studies have shown, the impact that caregiving has on the caregiver's health is enormous: 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits. Fifty-eight percent indicate worse exercise habits than before their caregiving responsibilities began.2 With depression being a major influencer of caregiver health, 40% to 70% of family caregivers show clinically significant symptoms.3 Statistics like these are alarming and indicate that personal care for the caregiver should be made a top priority in one's daily routine.
Being an educated caregiver is the first step in becoming an even more effective one. Proper nutrition, exercise and adequate rest all play major roles in maintaining both physical and emotional strength. When you experience issues like difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, extra stress or just plain exhaustion, take note and discuss these symptoms with your healthcare professional at your earliest convenience. Your health should always come first.
To help get you on the fast track to better health, go to Re-Charge® for a free printable newsletter. You'll find powerful tips for today's caregivers plus informative and entertaining articles posted just for you.
From understanding legal issues to learning how to meditate, to finding help when and where you need it — Re-Charge® has valuable information caregivers can use every day.
REACHING OUT for help
Family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in every state. On average, caregivers spend 20 hours a week caring for their loved ones, while 13% provide 40 hours of care or more a week.1 Many offer their services around the clock.
Clearly, reaching out for help should be part of every caregiver's plan. The burden can be eased by taking advantage of state and community programs along with special resources that offer all types of support to family caregivers. Knowing you are not alone in your efforts is a special source of comfort and strength for you to rely on every day.
To find online support in your area, visit thefamilycaregiver.org. Connecting with other caregivers is a way to give and receive hope, advice and friendly support. A handy online calendar is also available to help you organize doctor appointments, food shopping, and—most importantly—some downtime for yourself! Go to National Family Caregivers Association to plan your week and see all the services available to you.
Please join Partners Against Pain in recognizing the outstanding role that caregivers play in helping loved ones in need live richer and fuller lives. Thank you.
- Caregiving in the United States. National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009.
- Evercare Study of Caregivers in Decline: A Close-Up Look at Health Risks of Caring for a Loved One. National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare; 2006.
- Zarit S. Assessment of family caregivers: a research perspective. In: Family Caregiver Alliance. Caregiver Assessment: Voices and Views from the Field. Report from a National Consensus Development Conference. San Francisco, Ca: Family Caregiver Alliance; 2006;II:12-37.