Many caregivers fall into the trap of believing they have to do everything by themselves. This can be a recipe for disaster. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care-give for someone else.

Two-thirds of caregivers work outside of the home. Juggling work responsibilities and caregiving can be an overwhelming experience. If you’re in this situation, try these ideas for balancing your work and personal caregiving responsibilities:

- Learn to delegate.

- Share your work responsibilities with co-workers.

- Ask your company’s human resources department about resources, such as support lines or referral services. Then make use of these assistance programs.

- Talk with others. Keep an open line of communication with your supervisor and co-workers.

- Enlist the doctor’s help. Ask your loved one’s doctor to send a letter to your company explaining the seriousness of your loved one’s condition.

Even if you don’t have a job in addition to your caregiving duties, you do have a life. That life may include a spouse, children, grandchildren and others. How to you juggle the caregiver duties and still have lead your own life? Here are some tips for caregivers:

- Avoid guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect. No one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don’t have to feel guilty about asking for help.

- Accept help. Make a list of ways people can help you, and then let the helpers choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, a relative might be happy to take the person you care for a walk. Someone else may be willing to pick up groceries and run errands.

- Reach out. Organizataions such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association offer classes on caregiving. Local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.

- Join a support group. A support group can be a great source of encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.

- Stay Connected. Make an effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it’s just a walk with a friend. Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house.

- Commit to your own good health. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, and don’t neglect your need for a good night’s sleep. It’s also crucial to eat a healthy diet.

- See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms.

Additionally, look for Local Caregiver Resources for Support. If you’re like many caregivers, asking for help is not always easy. But rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources. To get started, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn about services in your community. You can find your local AAA online or in the government section of your telephone directory or search online.

Reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. 

The emotional and physical demands of caregiving can strain even the most capable person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of every available support.

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