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Caregiving Requires Compassion and Strength -- For Yourself Too

By HERWriter
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Caregiving Takes Compassion and Strength -- For Yourself Too Auremar/PhotoSpin

Being a caregiver is a tall order for a strong, compassionate person. Compassion is what made you decide to take on this role. Strength is needed in order to follow through on your decision.

Caregivers are often people who put the needs of others before their own. That tendency will be put to the test the longer the caregiver is meeting those needs of their loved one.

This can be a challenge that will require some re-evaluating of how you deal with yourself and others. If you want to avoid exhaustion, depression, anxiety and possible collapse, that re-evaluation can be vital.

Don't misunderstand me. Caring for your loved ones is a wonderful thing. There are countless vulnerable people who would not be able to make it without such selfless folks.

But someone has to take care of the caregivers, and one of the things that means is that you must also care for yourself, even if you have never done it before. Especially if you have never done it before.

It's not selfishness. It's just reality.

I wish I and my husband had realized this before he was caregiver for his father during his last year of life. It was a learning experience that changed the way we looked at ourselves and our lives.

Having other people in our lives, and caring organizations, to lean on and learn from made a great deal of difference for us. They were people who cared about us and who gave us guidance and reassurance that it wasn't wrong to delegate and to take breaks.

The sense of guilt at not always being there at every moment, at sometimes making mistakes and not being experts in the situation was enormous and constant.

The lack of sleep because of dealing with someone else's daily needs and worrying late into the night that stayed with us for several years after the caregiving role was completed.

The feeling of never being enough, never being able to do enough, of watching the person suffer and not being able to make it all better, left us both dealing with depression and exhaustion for a long time.

Cancer.net and Mayoclinic.com offer suggestions to caregivers as to what to watch out for, how to protect yourself and how to cope.

Getting support, asking for help, and focusing on other relationships are all important ways of reaching out beyond your own limited resources.

Being aware of stress, being kind to yourself and taking care of your body will help you protect yourself from the physical and emotional fallout brought on by the situation.

Knowing when to look for professional help can make all the difference between being able to handle your role in a positive way and being flattened by it.

Caregiving fills a vital need for the vulnerable people in our lives. The world is a better place for having caregivers in it. Just don't hesitate to take care of yourself, too, while you're at it.


How Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves. Cancer.net. Retrieved Nov. 5, 2014.

Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself. Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved Nov. 5, 2014.

Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca

Reviewed November 6, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Add a Comment1 Comments


In helping those caring for Alzheimer’s, I believe attending a support group is one of the most beneficial things a caregiver can do. Sure family and friends can offer support but unless a person has walked in the shoes of a caregiver, they can not provide the kind of support that is really needed. These fellow caregivers can relate and provide invaluable advice. The relationships and love that come from these groups is tremendous in creating confidence and strength.

November 11, 2014 - 5:07pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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