Tips for taking care of yourself as a caregiver

“Caregiving Around the Clock” is the theme of this year's National Family Caregiver's Month.

Family caregiving is more common than you think. Two out of every five adults in the United States are the family caregiver of a loved one. Besides caregiving, most caregivers are employed. In fact, about 60 percent of caregivers are in the age range of 25-54 years old.

According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, a study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP about 33.3 million adult caregivers provide care for an adult, 3.7 million of adult caregivers provide care to a child under age 18, and 6.5 million family caregivers provide care for both adults and children. Some other important findings highlighted by the report include that the majority of caregivers are female (60 percent), but 40 percent are male.

On average, they have been caregivers for 4 years, with a quarter having provided care for 5 years or more (24 percent).

On average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care to their loved one. Nearly one-quarter provide 41 or more hours of care a week (23 percent). Caregivers providing care for a spouse or partner provide nearly 45 hours of care a week.

The report also found that caregivers report not only emotional strain, but financial strain as well.  If you are a caregiver, make taking care of yourself a priority.

Here are some tips from the Caregiver Action Network:
  • Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.
  • Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  • Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  • Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  • Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  • Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay getting professional help when you need it.
  • Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  • Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
  • Make sure legal documents are in order.
  • Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is.

For more information, check out Powerful Tools For Caregivers, a program designed specifically for caregivers.

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