When caring for a loved one, it’s often the caregiver that finds themselves overwhelmed and exhausted.  This is a very difficult time for both the patient and the loved ones who are caring for them. It is essential that you, as the caregiver, give yourself permission to care for yourself as well as your loved one. If you are physically and emotionally drained it will be much more difficult for you to care for your loved one. Developing basic, good mental and physical health care should become a daily routine. Practicing good stress management is easy and does not require a lot of effort.

• Exercise is a good way to release stress and anxiety (Check with your doctor first). 20 min a day 2-3 times a week of walking and stretching your arms and legs can boost your energy and relieve stress.

• Limit fatty foods, sugar, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. It is ok to treat yourself once in a while but avoid when you can.

• Make time for yourself. Do something you enjoy regularly. Try to get out of the house at least once a week. Ask a friend or family member to sit with your loved one if they are not able to be alone.

• Make a list of things that would be helpful. When friends and family ask how they can help, give them the list of things to choose from. Most people are happy to be allowed to help.

• Maintain healthy friendships. It’s important to have people outside of your family that you can express your feelings to, spend time with and even exercise with.

• Get appropriate rest. Try to nap when your loved one is napping. Ask friends and other family not to call or visit during specified times. Try to have a night time routine for both you and your loved one to help both of you wind down from the day.

So remember, when you are caring for your loved one, the most important thing you can do for them is to CARE FOR YOURSELF first.

If you have any questions about receiving some assistance for you and your loved one please contact Kerri Ann Valenzuela (Community Educator) with Gemini Hospice at 602-642-6819 or visit our websites at  www.geminihospice.com or Gemini Home Care at www.geminihomecareaz.com