Talk to your doctor
If caregiving is making you feel depressed or anxious, talk to your doctor, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 Your doctor might have some information about support groups or could connect you to a social worker or case manager to help you cope with the challenges that come with caregiving.
Lean on your support network
Don’t be shy about asking friends and family for additional support. Often, they might want to help, but don’t know where to start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2 shares a few ideas to get everyone on the same page:
- Create a shared online calendar or scheduling tool where people can sign up to give you a break.
- Ask friends and family what activities they are most interested in helping with. Maybe you have a friend who loves running errands; a niece who loves to cook; or a cousin who wants to take your spouse on a walk once a week.
- Don’t take a “no” personally. Even if someone says they aren’t available for a specific task, they might be able to help at a different time. Ask again.
Explore respite care
Respite care gives you a short break from your caregiving responsibilities, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.3 You could have a health aide come to your home, sign-up your spouse for an adult day care program or look into short-term nursing or rehabilitation center options. Whether you need a weekend getaway or want to attend a monthly book club, taking advantage of a break gives you an opportunity to feel refreshed.
Sometimes, caregiving can feel like an isolating experience. But you’re not alone. About 1 in 3 U.S. adults provides care to other adults, cites Mayo Clinic.4 Here’s a look at a few agencies that can help you get connected to services in your community:
- Eldercare Locator: This is a national service that helps caregivers get connected with local support and resources:
- National Respite Locator: If you’re looking for a short break from caregiving, this service that helps you find respite care services in your community:
- Caregiver Action Network: This is a non-profit organization that provides educational materials, peer support and resources to caregivers:
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: Check out what short-term and long-term care services the VA offers for veterans and their spouses:
Incorporate a little exercise into your routine
Especially with all the caregiving responsibilities, you might not feel like you have enough time to add exercise to your schedule. But it’s one of the best ways to stay strong and mentally fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9 recommends clocking in about 30 minutes a day; five days a week of moderately intensive physical activity. Especially if you’re new to exercising, this might seem overwhelming, but walking, gardening or stretching are easy ways to ease into an exercise routine.
As your spouse’s caretaker, it’s easy to get caught up in everything they need — from making sure they take their medication to helping them bathe. But your needs are important, too. You can be the best version of yourself by getting the support you need from your network and carving out time to take care of your own needs.