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Taking Care of YOU – Advice from Family Caregivers

Take care of yourself. These words are so easy to say, yet we all know that finding the time and energy needed to “take care of you” is something that many family caregivers find impossible to do. In an attempt to provide some inspiration from the people who truly understand your challenges, we reached out to your fellow family caregivers and asked them what they do to take care of themselves and protect their own health. Here are a few of their responses:

I make sure that I have a few hours a week to do something that I want to do. I can’t always get away, but watching a movie on DVD or reading a book outside on the patio helps me to escape the everyday pressures of caregiving. – Karen Baca Aurora, Colorado

I have regular checkups with my physician, dentist and eye doctor. I take medicines as prescribed, along with several vitamins and calcium. I have family and friends who stay with my husband at least once a week so I am able to run errands and have a little time for myself. I do crafts and puzzles and read while I am sitting with my husband. – Martha Harris Corydon, Indiana

I am learning to play the Native American style flute. I play weekly with others in a wellness circle. My 86-year-old mother is also learning and we play for others at hospitals. – Mary Ellen Ziegler Oak Lawn, Illinois

I have signed up for water aerobics. I exercise at my own pace and water resistance is easier on my joints. It’s only a 45-minute class but I look forward to it each week. I also walk daily. – Marie G. Tinton Falls, New Jersey

I make sure I stay in close touch with my friends and get out to do fun things with them if only for a short while. I have a reliable caregiver who takes care of my husband when I am gone. I am always in a much better place mentally when I return. My husband had a stroke seven years ago and requires help with everything. – Sally Mathewson Colorado Springs, Colorado

I took care of my first husband for 43 years and have been caring for my second husband since 2009. I have learned the following:

  • I have frequent contact with my friends; if I can’t get out, I call someone to visit by phone.

  • I schedule and keep all my appointments with my own doctors.

  • I call on willing people to help me get time away for myself whenever possible.

  • I pray a lot and I try not to miss a service at my church. I take my husband with me.

  • I walk every day for 30 minutes even if I have to wait until night to do it.

  • I have lost 30 pounds and no longer have to take blood pressure medication.

  • I read voraciously.

  • My husband and I invite friends to our home for meals and games. We also have a dog who is a very good companion, listener, sympathizer, and all-around fun girl.

by Carla Everett-Bullington, McKinney, Texas In the newsletter of the National Family Caregivers Association