If you are a family caregiver, you know that much of your energy is focused on meeting the needs of the person you are caring for, and that focusing on your own needs may seem selfish. But preserving your health, getting a break, having time for yourself, none of these are selfish desires. They are part of what we all need to do, caregivers and non-caregivers alike.
It's important that caregivers don't try to do everything themselves. Asking for help may be difficult or even seem embarrassing, but you may discover that friends and family are not only willing, but even eager to help. And remember, asking for help means less stress for you, which almost always means you'll be a better family caregiver.
Net of Care, a service of Beth Israel Hospital's Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, provides the following tips:
- Sit down with family members or friends in person or find a quiet time to talk to them on the phone.
- Discuss specific areas in which you think they could help.
- Clearly explain what they could do to help.
The American Academy of Family Physicians also provides some advice on communicating your needs and how to find help, as does the National Family Caregivers Association.