Many caregivers understand the importance of caring for themselves and, yet, in another breath, say things like, “I feel overwhelmed,” “I’m stressed out,” “I’m too busy to eat, let alone find time to stay healthy,” and “There are so many things to do, how do I make time for myself?”
Start by checking in with yourself. Respond to the statements below to recognize the positive steps you are already taking to ensure you stay healthy, and to identify areas where you might consider action to help keep you resilient.
I am satisfied with my overall personal health.
I have the skills and information I need to give the required care.
I maintain regular contact with family and friends and make time to spend with them.
I can ask for help and accept help when it is offered. I know I don’t have to, and can’t, do this alone.
I can communicate effectively with the person I am caring for, as well as with others involved in their care.
I am aware of community resources available to help support me in my caregiver role.
I am aware of caregiver support groups (locally or online) and/or have a supportive network where I can share my challenges and successes.
I make use of respite options available and take breaks away from my caregiving responsibilities.
I have gathered information about the progression of my care recipient’s disease, so I know what to expect and can prepare in advance as best I can.
I know how to navigate the healthcare system and who to ask if, and when, I need help.
Give yourself one point for every “Yes” answer.
You are already taking several important actions to take care of yourself and make sure caregiving is sustainable for you. Look closely at any statements where you answered “No,” and consider whether accessing more resources would be helpful for you.
You understand the importance of self-care, but you’re not always able to take action to support yourself. Consider any barriers you have to self-care and ask yourself whether these are external (you don’t know about the resources that exist to help you) or internal (you have trouble asking for and receiving support). Sharing the care is essential to finding enough time and energy for yourself. Choose one statement where you responded “No” to work on this week.
Fewer than 5 Points
Without contributing to your own well-being, caregiving quickly becomes overwhelming and unsustainable. Use this list of 10 statements as a guide to creating a self-care plan; start with learning more about the caregiver support resources available to guide you. It will be important for you to identify resources you’re not currently using in your social circle, such as family, friends, acquaintances and neighbours, to share the care and create some much-needed space for addressing your own well-being.
On average, it takes family caregivers four years to reach out and ask for help. Don’t be part of those statistics. Ask for the help you want and need. You will be a healthier caregiver and the person receiving care will be better cared for.