By DeAnn Rosenberry, MA LMFT     
Senior Services Program Manager, Family Service Agency

While caring for a senior family member or loved one can be rewarding,  it can also be demanding, difficult, and stressful work. As a family or unpaid caregiver, you may need to be available around the clock to fix meals, provide nursing care, take care of laundry and cleaning, drive to doctors’ appointments, and pay bills. Many people who become family caregivers have to give up paying jobs to accommodate these types of responsibilities.

It may be hard to keep a positive outlook when there is little hope of the older person’s physical and mental condition improving. Over time, the demands and stress of caregiving can take their toll. Since taking care of a loved one can become life consuming,  it is important to maintain your mental and physical health. Here are some tips.

First, make sure you have time to rest and take care of your needs. You can ask a family member or friend to help out for a weekend, or even for a few hours, so that you can take some time for yourself. Some community service organizations provide caregivers a break, called respite care. Visit the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center’s National Respite Locator (https://archrespite.org/respitelocator) to find respite services in your area.

Second, exercise can help with you relieve stress. Find a way to carve out 30 minutes of your day to take a walk or participate in an exercise class.

Finally, ask for help if you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, or isolation. Caregiving support groups are a way to network with other people in your community who understand exactly what you’re going through. It helps to know you’re not alone. Visit CaringTogetherSB.org for more information.