Tips for Caregivers

Most of us will be at some point in our lives, or are, caregivers. A person with a severe mental illness may require a caregiver. Or as loved ones age, health conditions or frailty can soon follow. While some persons requiring assistance can rely upon paid providers, most rely on unpaid assistance from families, friends and neighbors. Following are a few tips for a caregiver to keep in mind.

Avoid Placing Blame or Guilt

Recognize that you are a loving family member and/or friend and not a magician. None of us can change anyone else; we can only be supportive of ourselves and our loved one as each of us attempts to find ways to manage mental illness. Focus on the good things that happened during each day. Realize that we all have physical and emotional limits. Do not blame yourself or others if that limit is reached.

Seek Relief From Stress

Find pleasurable places to go each day. Find a place where you can be alone. Use it whenever you need it. Be gentle with yourself. Spend some time away from the person with mental illness. Avoid activities that increase your levels of tension. Inject humor in your life.

Learn to Gain Control of Your Life

Learn to set limits and to make choices. Learn to say “no”, what is your “yes” worth? Use the expression “I choose to” rather than “I have to,” or “I should.” Learn to say “I won’t” rather than “I can’t.” Take care of your own nutritional and sleep needs. Establish short term and long term goals for yourself. You may find it useful to keep a journal.

Continue Outside Interests

Realize that you should continue your leisure activities, your relationships with others and your hobbies. Enjoy your life!

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