How to Care for Yourself as a Caregiver
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Caregiving can be fraught for the estimated 53 million Americans who assist family members and friends. And factors like financial strain and isolation can add to psychological distress. In a 2017 survey of 1,081 caregivers conducted by AARP, 51 percent of respondents reported feeling worried or stressed. But there was a surprising upside: The majority — 91 percent — also reported feeling pleased that they were able to help.

How can caregivers hold on to that feeling amid the stress, fatigue and resentment that also come with the role? There are strategies for feeling “less burdened or stressed by the daily problems” they encounter, said William Haley, a professor of aging studies at the University of South Florida.

Ms. Le, for example, makes time every day to laugh with her siblings about the more absurd moments of caring for her father. “You kind of have to take it with some humor,” she said, “because otherwise I think you’d just be in the fetal position.”

“Somebody saying, ‘You need to take care of yourself’ suggests that person doesn’t actually know what it’s like to be a family caregiver,” said Anne Tumlinson, a health care consultant from Washington, D.C. who founded The Daughterhood, a free online community for caregivers. “As a practical matter, there’s only so much you can do.”

Rev. Nicholas Sollom, a chaplain at Yale New Haven Hospital, isn’t a fan of any relaxation rituals that create new tasks. Instead, he advises caregivers to keep their routines as simple and sustainable as possible: “Make sure you got enough sleep, make sure you’re eating, make sure you’re staying hydrated,” he said. It sounds simple, but these are the things that often get overlooked when you’re focused on someone else’s survival.

“It’s all super basic to just being alive,” he added, but these few things “can be a game changer” for maintaining energy.

Read more in the New York Times.

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