Self Care for Caregivers

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Self Care for Caregivers

Unread postby Sophia » 10 Jul 2015

When caring for a loved one with a mental illness, it can be hard to balance the needs of your loved one with your own needs, particularly if your loved one is critically ill or unwell for a long time. It can be hard to remember to look after yourself or even find the time to do so when things are hard. This can lead to feeling or being burnt out.

It's important to remember that you need and deserve self care, both for yourself and to help you be a more effective caregiver.

Caregivers, particularly those who live with their loved one, can sometimes find it challenging to arrange for time to themselves to rest, exercise, go on vacation or look after other responsibilities. Here are some ideas that have worked for other family caregivers. Perhaps some of these ideas will fit or inspire some of your own:
  • Ask a family member to come visit your (and their) loved one in your home while you leave and take some time for yourself. This could be for a few hours on a regular basis, or for a longer chunk of time. They could also take your loved one out to an regular activity or low key family functions without you. Extended family don't always know what would be helpful, but giving them something specific like this to do can help them connect.
  • Look into community leisure programs that welcome and support people with mental illness that your loved one could attend, giving your some time to rest, exercise or do other things. Some of these programs include mental health clubhouses or specialized leisure programs for persons with a mental health condition like Thrive Leisure and Education Services Vancouver.
  • Sometimes easing other responsibilities can help when you're feeling overwhelmed or there is a crisis. If you have younger children at home, would it make sense for them to have a visit with relatives or go to summer camp?
  • Are tight finances making it difficult to have a break from caregiving? In some areas, small amounts of funding are available to spend on helping you arrange for some time to yourself.

Resources on self care for caregivers:

Family Self Care and Recovery from Mental Illness (HereToHelp / Mood Disorders Association of BC)- This 98 page online resource has several sections that you might be interested in. You could look at the index and then read or print the sections you are interested in.

How you can help: a toolkit for families. A resource for families supporting children, youth or adults with a mental or substance use disorder (HereToHelp / BC Schizophrenia Society / Force)- this online printable book has lots of great information including a chapter/module on caring for yourself and other family members.

Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers (National Caregiving Alliance) - This article on caregiving self-care is more focussed on caregivers of persons with Alzheimers, but has some useful questions and strategies.

Strengthening Families Together - This free support and education program can help by providing information and support for family members on mental illness and helping a loved one.
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