Family Caregivers Need Care Too

Today, family caregivers support our entire health care system by providing more than 80 percent of all the long term care services in the U.S., valued at an incredible $450 billion a year.

The toll of caregiving can be heavy. Many caregivers experience physical, psychological and financial stress, as they try to balance jobs, families and self-care with caregiving.

In an airplane, the safety instructions tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. That applies to caregiving as well.

The following tips can help:

  • Remember to breathe: Deep breathing is a simple, but effective, way to relax. Take a deep breath. Let your diaphragm expand to let it in. Hold and breathe out slowly. Even ten deep breaths can change your perspective. Take ten minutes and make it a mini-vacation; visualize going to the beach.
  • Turn in the Superman/Superwoman Cape: Give up trying to be perfect. Be satisfied with “good enough” instead. Accept that you are human and doing your best.
  • Be grateful: Even on the hardest of days we can find reasons to be thankful. For example, we can appreciate a beautiful sunset, a shared laugh, a hug. Start a gratitude journal. End each day with writing down three things that you were grateful for that day. Focus on the positives in your life.
  • Ask for help: Reach out to family, friends or agencies that provide the services you need. Identify tasks that people can do for you, such as run an errand, cook a meal or visit with your loved one while you take a break. People often want to help, but don’t know how.

When you take care of your own needs, the person you care for will benefit too.

United Way of Northern New Jersey Caregivers Coalition works to improve the quality of life for caregivers by providing information, education, support, and advocacy. Visit us online or call 973.993.1160, x139.

About United Way of Northern New Jersey

United Way of Northern New Jersey is a non-profit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health. We lead caring communities to create long-lasting changes that transform people’s lives. Together, united, we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow throughout Morris, North Essex, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED. To learn more, call 908.835.3550 or visit