How to take care of yourself:
- Give yourself permission to vent or cry. Your emotions are as important
as your significant other's.
- Problem solve - find a strategy for dealing with a singular problem.
A one-thing-at-a-time approach helps to prevent you from being overwhelmed
in the face of many individual problems.
- Use friends and kinship relations to develop a solid social network
Friends can serve as sympathetic ears and may help you when you need
an extra hand for a suicide watch or something of the sort. Ethnic communities
seem to have these kinds of networks in place, but there is no reason
not to work on developing one.
- Use religious or spiritual resources to give you another avenue of
- Don't ignore your own health problems. You cannot care for someone
else if you don't take care of your own health needs.
- Staying employed (if possible) can help caregivers by providing a
break from caring duties. Employment can also provide a needed social
outlet and help alleviate isolation which can lead to depression.
- Be sure to keep lines of communication open between family members
and the person being cared for. Let them know concerns and feelings
as well as important appointment dates and such.
- Learn as much as you can about the illness of the person you are caring
for. The Internet is a terrific resource for doing this. Being well-familiar
with your significant other's illness helps you to identify outside
resources that might be useful for reducing stress.
- Make use of appropriate services like day sitting, day programs, volunteer
taxi programs etc.
- Make links with different services by developing a detailed care-management
- Make good use of counselling and support groups. this advice applies
to both you, as a carer, and to your significant other.
- Learn mood-management and problem-solving skills.
- Take breaks by taking advantage of respite care provided by friends,
family or a social service.
- Continue your hobbies and leisure-time activities as much as is possible.
- If you are Australian, contact the Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre
at this number: 1800 242 636. The phone call is free.
- If the person you care for is aggressive: a) notify all professionals
and others of any aggressive behaviour, b) look to protect yourself
from aggressive behaviour ahead of time if possible by making safe places
in the house. If need be...leave, c) have at least some rooms that lock,
d) remove (or hide) items that can be used as weapons against you, e)
seek professional advice on how to deal with aggressive behaviour (GPs
are a good resource for this) f) If the aggression occurs in public,
try not to be affected by comments made by outsiders g) seek help in
the form of other support persons or counsellors.
- Have family conferences on how to divide up caring such as suicide
- Become an advocate for carers.
Some great carer resources:
- Carers Australia
- Carers New Zealand
- Carers United Kingdom
- Carers Victoria
- Carers Western Australia
- Carers New South Wales
- Carers South Australia
- Carers Tasmania
- Carers America