Looking out for #1: 10 self-care tips for caregivers

tips for caregiver careRobocop had a classified Fourth Directive, and caregivers also have a tacit number one rule, which is to take good care of themselves first and foremost so that they can take good care of a loved one with dementia or any other debilitating condition. There is nothing selfish about putting your own needs ahead and following this Decalog of advice.

1.Take care of you.

·         Eat healthy.

·         Get enough sleep.

·         See a doctor regularly.

·         Do not dismiss fatigue, stress, sleeplessness or changes in eating habits, personality, or behavior.

2.Decrease your levels of stress.

·         Identify the early warning signs of caregiver stress, such as irritability, sleep issues, forgetfulness.

·         Recognize the sources of your stress, for instance too many responsibilities, familial arguments, not being able to say no.

·         Learn to make the difference between what you can and cannot change; for example, you cannot change the person that you provide care for, but you can change yourself.

3.Set goals such as:

·         Taking a break from caregiving.

·         Getting help with duties like bathing and cooking.

·         Participating in activities that are good for your health.

4.Plan ahead.

·         Talk to a professional to devise a legal and financial plan that includes advance directives, wills, estate planning, housing issues and long-term care.

5.Find solutions.

·         Single out a problem.

·         Make a list of potential solutions.

·         Pick a solution from the list and put it in practice.

·         Assess the results.

·         If the first solution doesn’t work, try a second one. You can always revisit the first idea later on, if need be.

·         Be ready to admit that the problem cannot be solved at the moment.

6.Communicate constructively.

·         Use the first-person singular personal pronoun instead of the second-person personal pronoun. For example, say ‘I am stressed’ as opposed to ‘you stress me out.’

·         Do not say anything to deliberately hurt the feelings of another person.

·         Respect others’ right to express their own feelings.

·         The person you’re talking to cannot read your thoughts; so speak your mind clearly and specifically.

·         Listen carefully to what other people have to say.

7.Ask for and accept help.

·         Seek the support of relatives, friends, and local resources.

·         Ask for somebody’s help based on their skills and interests.

·         Time your request for help to coincide with when the person is more available.

·         Make a list of things to do and allow the person to choose from it.

·         Allow yourself to take no for an answer.

8.Talk to the doctor.

·         Make a list of questions in advance.

·         Ask a nurse questions too.

·         Call the doctor’s office ahead of time to make sure the physician is on schedule.

·         Bring someone with you for moral and practical support.


·         Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, and involve the care receiver if possible. If the person is mobile, you can go for a 20-minute daily walk which will do you both good.

10.Listen to your emotions.

·         They may be trying to tell you something, for instance that you need a change in your situation, that you’re grieving a loss, that your stress levels are increasing, or that you have to demand what you need.

Related Read:

- New at Dementia Caregiving? Here are a few tips!