"Caregivers' needs will vary over time along these different dimensions," explained Breslow. "By categorizing and prioritizing, you'll feel better able to address challenges as they arise rather than feeling overwhelmed."She also offers the following tips for family caregivers:
- Take a break – Caregiving is a demanding job, and respite is needed to avoid burnout. Don't hesitate to take breaks and accept help from others when offered. When help is needed, don't be afraid to ask others to step in and lend a hand.
- Get the facts – Taking time to learn about and understand a loved one's illness will help a caregiver better communicate with the patient's physician and enhance the ability to provide care.
- Self care – Caregivers must address their own health needs by recognizing both physical illness and signs of depression and getting treatment when needed.
- Talk it out – Caring for a family member may stir up a wide range of emotions, ranging from sadness to guilt to anger to frustration; speaking with a therapist or counselor may be beneficial for caregivers.
- Seek support from other caregivers – Find a support group or an online community of people who are faced with the same challenges.