According to the NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA), over 15 million Americans provided unpaid care for older adults. “Many caregivers of older adults express satisfaction with their labors of love, but they often face challenges, especially when caring for people with chronic diseases such as dementia, diabetes, or heart failure. The day-to-day tasks may seem endless: arranging doctor’s appointments and transportation, moving the person safely, ensuring proper nutrition, and much more” (NIA - Caregiving). This is also true for those caring for loved ones with chronic lung disease.
Because caring for chronically ill loved ones can be so physically and emotionally exhausting, the NIA stresses the importance of encouraging the caregiver to take the time to care for him- or herself. “Caregiving is not easy for anyone—not for the caregiver and not for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments for everyone” (NIA - Tips for Caregivers)
The NIA recommends the following tips for staying healthy while caring for chronically ill loved ones:
- Make sure you are making time for yourself, eating healthy foods, and being active
- Consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online
- Meeting other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and will give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas
- If you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it
This guidance from the NIA is extremely pertinent to those caring for loved ones with chronic lung disease. If you take the time to take care of yourself, you will be in a much better position to care for your loved one. For more information about caregiver health, contact the Family Caregiver Alliance at 1-800-445-8106 (toll-free) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Family Caregiver Alliance website to learn more.
See the National Institute on Aging's infographic about caregiver health here: Make Yourself a Priority, Too: Tips for Caregivers