POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 109 TIPS for caregivers • Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to stay healthy. This includes having some fun and living life to the fullest. Many caregivers feel guilty about taking time for themselves, however, it is critical that the caretaker makes her own health and well being a priority in order to take care of others. Heavily stressed individuals are less effective and less efficient. • Be practical. You can only do what you can do. Don’t overload yourself emotionally, physically or financially. • Don’t neglect your significant relationships. Take time to be with the important people in your life. Make plans with your family for special afternoons in the park or movies at home. Go on a date with your partner. • Be in touch with yourself. Watch out for signs of burn-out and depression. Consider discussing theses issues with your physician or seek counseling if you have symptoms of depression. Be aware of increased use of antianxiety medication or self-medication through alcohol. Think about your own physical and mental health and get help if you see a less than healthy change. • Make caring for your parent a responsibility for the whole family. It is not just the adult daughter’s job. Other siblings as well as children can help. Hold a family meeting to discuss caregiving. Make a list of all responsibilities required, then discuss who might do what tasks. All family members living in the area should attend, especially the aging parent, so his or her feelings are considered. • Accept help from extended family, friends and neighbors. It is very easy to say “no” when others offer to assist you. If they are not offering something helpful, make a suggestion of what they can do to help. They truly want to help and sometimes they don’t know how. • Become an expert. Learn as much about the medical condition you are dealing with as you can. This will alleviate the stress of not knowing what to expect, and will make you better able to care for your loved one. • Reflect on the positives of the relationship. Remember why it is you are taking care of an aging parent or relative. Take time to reflect on the times that this person was a significant and giving force in your life. Renew the love and the feelings you have for the person. Sometimes the difficulties of the caregiving role can get in the way of such feelings. Look at old photo albums and, if possible, reflect and recollect with your loved one. • Tap into the many resources out there to help. There are helpful sources such as; assisted living, day care for seniors, home care, shortterm residential care, and church volunteer organizations that offer services to assist caregivers. Find out what resources are available in your community and take advantage of them. • Seek support. Your friends or church may be excellent sources of support. Many communities have Alzheimer’s support groups. There are even Internet support groups. Find out what support services are offered in your community and take advantage of them. Reach out. Please contact your FSEAP professional to learn more about the information and support available to caregivers. Family Services offers confidential professional assistance on a wide variety of personal and work-related issues. For more information on your EAP, call: 1-800-668-9920 The Sandwich Generation. . . Continued