Home Health How to Care for Yourself as a Caregiver

How to Care for Yourself as a Caregiver


Rev. Nicholas Sollom, a chaplain at Yale New Haven Hospital, isn’t a fan of any relaxation rituals that create new tasks. Instead, he advises caregivers to keep their routines as simple and sustainable as possible: “Make sure you got enough sleep, make sure you’re eating, make sure you’re staying hydrated,” he said. It sounds simple, but these are the things that often get overlooked when you’re focused on someone else’s survival.

“It’s all super basic to just being alive,” he added, but these few things “can be a game changer” for maintaining energy.

Without robust government support and resources, most U.S. caregivers have to figure things out on their own, Ms. Tumlinson said. And on top of overseeing another person’s health, housing and finances, she said, many caregivers have to navigate complex family dynamics when their siblings, spouses or parents become dependent on them.

“There comes a point where every caregiver goes, ‘Oh, I’m on another planet now,’” she said.

Yet the more you can educate yourself about your loved one’s illness — and find practical and emotional support — the less likely you are to feel overburdened, Dr. Haley said. He recommended contacting your local area agency on aging, a state-designated nonprofit that provides free directories for services that address the needs of older people. Through these organizations, you can explore resources like adult day care services and Meals on Wheels.

Geriatric care navigators with experience helping families find services and make caregiving plans can also help prepare you for challenges you might encounter, like getting expenses reimbursed by Medicare. They can be hired short-term for planning, or an ongoing basis to oversee care. Care navigators can be costly, but if the person needing assistance has long-term care insurance, the expense may be partly covered.

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