"Caregiving can be very isolating, is a job most people didn't apply for and never received proper training in and does not pay very well," says Jerri Rosenfeld, a social worker at Northern Westchester Hospital's Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y. But you don't have to go it alone. Try these resources.
quicklist: 1category: 5 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stresstitle: Start with a support group url:text:"Sometimes all you need is an opportunity to share your feelings and swap strategies in a nonjudgmental and supportive atmosphere," Rosenfeld says. Check to see if your local hospital, church or synagogue offers resources. Or try your town's rec center, which may have a senior or elder program that also gives caregiver support.
quicklist: 2category: 5 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stresstitle: Find the right online help url:text:
quicklist: 3category: 5 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stresstitle: Keep a journal url:text:
It's a safe place to write out your thoughts, even if they don't make any sense, Rosenfeld says, and research shows that journaling can help relieve stress. Try a gratitude journal, where you jot down everything that you're grateful for; a venting diary (self-explanatory!); or a reminiscence log, where you record memories of your loved one.
quicklist: 4category: 5 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stresstitle: Organize with an app url:text:
quicklist: 5category: 5 Ways to Deal With Caregiver Stresstitle: Steal time for you url:text:
"Often a caregiver brings in her loved one for an appointment and just sits in the waiting room, when she could be taking a quick walk outside or phoning a friend," Rosenfeld says. Set aside time for things that nourish you; simply sipping your coffee on your patio for an extra 15 minutes can help renew your energy.
"People frequently say, 'You need to take time for yourself so you can be a better caregiver,' but they've got it completely wrong," Rosenfeld says. "You need to take time for yourself because you're a human being."
Want to help a friend?
You may not be tending to aging parents yourself—but chances are you know someone who is. Instead of just saying vaguely, "Let me know if there's anything I can do," offer to take on specific jobs, like helping to watch her kids or bringing dinner once a week. Even better: Allow her to tell you exactly what she needs. StandWith (free; iTunes), a new app from FCancer co-founder Yael Cohen Braun, enables users to post not just updates but also tasks they need done (buying groceries, giving rides, etc.) so that folks know what will really help.