Being a caregiver can be extremely demanding. It can affect your quality of life in many ways: physically, socially, financially, spiritually and emotionally. In order to best take care of your family member or friend, it’s important to take some time to take care of yourself.
Here are a few tips from Gita Lakhanpal, a Mental Health Clinician at Sinai Health’s Reitman Centre.
- Be prepared: Gather information from your healthcare team or from caregiver groups on caring for your family member or friend.
- Manage your time and your tasks, and delegate responsibilities. Break big problems or tasks into smaller ones to make them easier to handle. For example, don’t try to clean the whole house at one time; do a room a day or divide the work among family members.
- Spend time with other family members and friends. Being isolated is a risk for caregivers.
- Scheduling short breaks throughout the week can be easier than finding time for a long break. Some examples to consider; Go for a walk, have a massage, see a movie, watch TV, take a hot bath, or meet up with a friend – whatever activities you enjoy doing and find relaxing. If you’re worried about leaving your loved one alone, ask someone you trust to come by while you’re away and leave a contact number so you can be reached. Talk to your doctor or therapist to learn about respite resources. *Clinical Note: Acknowledge that taking a break can be tough and that it’s necessary for your health and well-being and that of the person you are caring for.
- Join a caregivers group or another support group. You may find it helpful to talk with other families.