As a mesothelioma caregiver, it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Your loved one is ill and your time with them is limited. But as rewarding and important as the role of mesothelioma caregiver can be, is also tough and in many ways relentless. And often physically and emotionally draining.
Know that you are not alone. According to a recent article in USA Weekend, more than 65 million Americans are serving as caregivers for loved ones by:
- Preparing meals
- Taking over household duties
- Managing doctor appointments and medications
- Providing full-time assistance in many instances
But to care for others effectively, you have to look after your own well-being too. The article offered some strategies to help keep you happy and healthy so you can keep doing what you need to do. We’ve summarized them here:
Recognize the warning signs of stress. Feeling irritable and exhausted, having trouble sleeping, being forgetful or losing interest in formerly favorite activities all indicate you are under too much stress. Stress is emotional but over time, it can harm your physical health, too.
Change the things you can. As a mesothelioma caregiver, there’s a lot that’s not in your control. Try to figure out what ‘s doable and take small steps towards change, the Family Caregiver Alliance suggests. Even meeting a friend for coffee once a week can help alleviate some anxiety and stress.
Accept help. According to some estimates, nearly one in five caregivers provides more than 40 hours of care per week. A friend could pick up groceries or prescriptions at the drugstore. Someone else could visit with the person you care for or take them for an occasional short walk to give you a break.
Seek support. Maintaining a strong support system is helpful for managing the stress of caregiving, experts at the Mayo Clinic say. Set time aside each week to connect with family and friends. Continue to check in with Mesothelioma Circle, a great source of encouragement and advice from other mesothelioma caregivers.
See your doctor. Studies have found that caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness themselves. As challenging as it may seem to find the time, it’s important to see your physicians for regular checkups and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver and mention any health concerns or symptoms you have. You need to stay healthy for yourself and for your loved one who has mesothelioma.