As a caregiver, you have a job that changes constantly depending on your loved one’s health and needs. You deal with expectations and feel many emotions. Being a caregiver can be a long journey with many challenges. Taking good care of yourself, also called self- care, is essential to your health and sense of being well. It also helps the loved one you are taking care of.
Your emotions may include feeling overlooked by the health care professionals caring for your loved one. You might feel alone and unable to talk to your loved one about how the situation makes you feel. And perhaps you feel misunderstood by friends, family and coworkers.
This guidebook is here to support you, whatever your relationship is to the person you care for. You are husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, relatives and acquaintances. And you are not alone on this journey.
So often you hear that it’s important to take care of yourself. But for caregivers like you, who spend so much time and effort caring for someone else, how is that possible and what does it mean? Another important group of individuals reading this book are those coping with the loss of their loved ones.
This guidebook is based on scientific research and other caregivers’ personal experiences. It walks you through the four areas of your life that are key to being at your best. These are your sense of self—who you are—your choices, your circle of support and your relationship with the outside world. You can read the guide whenever you have a few minutes to yourself or need help and advice.
As you work with this guide, you may find healing. But you may not find a cure. “Cure” means the signs and symptoms of disease, injury or loss are completely gone, and this is not always possible. For example, if your loved one was in combat, they may have permanent hearing loss or other changes. If you lose a child, you will always be conscious of the loss. However, healing is a process of recovery, repair and renewal. It is personal, and it can continue throughout your life. Healing can help you and your loved ones live the best life possible.