November is a time to celebrate the contribution of those volunteer friends and family members who support a loved one with their health or managing a disability. We’re thankful for the contributions of the more than 44 million Americans who care for others.
Family caregivers of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior. Regardless of age, sex, and race and ethnicity, caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing caregiving responsibilities. They report:
¨ Sleep deprivation
¨ Poor eating habits
¨ Failure to exercise
¨ Failure to stay in bed when ill
¨ Postponement of or failure to make medical appointments for themselves
Family caregivers are also at increased risk for depression and excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.
On an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too. For tips on taking responsibility for your own care, go to: https://www.caregiver.org/taking-care-you-self-care-family-caregivers
If you’re a caregiver or know someone who is, take a free and anonymous online screening to stay on top of your own mental wellness.