Here are Tips for Taking Care of the Caregiver
By Jill Koval, Ph.D.
Director, Psychological Services, Shepherd Center Inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Program
Being a caregiver can be overwhelming and result in forgetting about oneself and one’s needs. This can lead to self-neglect, anger, depression, feelings of isolation, resentment and even illness. Here are some helpful ways to take care of yourself when you are a caregiver:
- Be proactive. Think about how you will take care of yourself before you even leave the hospital with your loved one.
- Use peer supporters to get some tips on how their family members/caregivers managed once at home.
- Don’t feel guilty about having needs: You’re human, too.
- Think about your basic needs, like eating, sleeping and showering, and build them into the schedule at home.
- Remember other needs, such as your own medical appointments, seeing other people and maintenance, like haircuts, and plan for those, too.
- Accept offers from others to help. If they need ideas, make some suggestions, such as meal and grocery deliveries, laundry, cleaning, sitting with your loved one for companionship, driving your loved one to appointments and/or therapies, reading to your loved one, driving kids to activities, helping with homework, etc.
- Don’t feel like you are the only one capable of providing care: Teach others. There are many things, aside from personal care, that your loved one needs. Examples include stretching and range-of-motion exercises.
- Seek volunteers at church, social organizations, high schools, colleges and graduate programs, including nursing schools, to help with caregiving.
- Get out with your loved one. A change in scenery can do you both a lot of good.
- Talk with your loved one so they understand. They worry about you, too!
For more information on psychological services available at Shepherd Center, you may call 404-350-7553.
JILL KOVAL, Ph.D., is the director of psychological services in the Spinal Cord Injury Inpatient Program at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. She has worked at Shepherd Center since 1989. Dr. Koval has a doctorate in psyhcology from George Washington University. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.