Always take care of yourself first. Who will handle all of your responsibilities if something happens to you?
Be as patient as you can with yourself and your loved one.
Contact self help centers and hospitals in your community to find resources in your area. Local newspapers may also advertise meetings and support groups in your community.
Determine as soon as possible how finances will be handled and whether filing for disability insurance benefits or Social Security benefits is warranted. You may want to contact an accountant to help you. Legal matters such as an advance directive should also be addressed, and a lawyer's services might prove useful.
Encourage your loved one to do as much as he or she can on his or her own. Don't baby your loved one too much and actually risk limiting his or her level of functioning.
Find out everything you can about your loved one's condition and available treatments .
Give yourself permission to take a break, to feel angry, scared or resentful, to grieve, cry, or reach out for help, or whatever you need to do - right when you need to do it. Even when you think you have grieved enough, adjusted enough or worried enough, these emotions can arise all over again. Caregiving is a continual process. Give yourself room to re-group every step of the way.
Have the phone number of your loved one's physician by the phone at all times in case of an emergency. Also, find out in advance where the nearest hospital is that can handle an emergency, lists your loved one's physician as having hospital privileges and is covered by your loved one's health insurance policy.
Ignore any attempts from others to try to make you feel guilty or obligated to give more than you are able or comfortable to give.
Jokes and humor from children, pets, friends and family can be a great source of strength. Try not to push humor out of your life, even when things are very serious. It's still okay to laugh.
Know your limits. Set your own goals and design your own schedule. Don't let anyone else decide for you what you are capable of accomplishing.
Let your loved one know with a word, touch, smile or hug that the disease has been stressful for both of you, but that he or she still has your full support. Not only is that support helpful for your loved one it is also important for your own well-being to keep that emotional bond strong when caring for his or her physical needs.
Make peace with your loved one. Past hurts need to be resolved as much as possible in order to move forward in the caregiving relationship.
Never take responsibility for your loved one's decisions. If he or she does not make progress, does not take the medication you offer, refuses to go to a doctor's appointment or makes other decisions that are beyond your control, it's not your fault.
Organize responsibilities into as comfortable a routine as possible, allowing for the fact that caregiving is always full of surprises.
Prepare an emergency card with your basic medical information and keep it close by so that hospital personnel will have access to vital information in the case of an emergency. Be sure to include a list of conditions or diseases, past procedures or surgeries, current medications, any implanted devices (e.g., a pacemaker) and an emergency contact name and phone number.
Question anything a doctor says that you don't understand. If you find yourself unclear about something after leaving a doctor's office, try to write down other questions for the next visit. For additional information.
Remember that you are not alone. Many other adults are caring for loved ones, as well as their own children. Support groups and online communities are available to connect people with each other.
Stretch, Breathe, Re-energize. Take small breaks whenever you can to nurture yourself, and lean on available resources to help you take longer breaks.
Team up with other people to get everything done. Rather than handling ten things every day on your own, enlist the help of others so that ten people can do one thing every day.
Update the list of your loved one's medications and dosages, and do everything possible to make sure that your loved one takes all medications as prescribed.
Verbalize your thoughts, feelings and plans with friends, family members, coworkers, bosses, neighbors and so forth. They will not know what you are dealing with, or how to help, unless you tell them. Sometimes you can just ask them to listen.
Watch for any signs of caregiver burnout in yourself, including mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family, uncontrollable crying spells, despair or helplessness, increased drinking or drug use, and other signs that you are trying to do too much by yourself.
X-rays, IV's, medical tests and procedures take time, and you may find yourself with hours to spend in a waiting room. Plan ahead for how you can make this time as productive and personally fulfilling as possible.
Yell in privacy, pound a pillow, slam a car door, sing with the radio at the top of your lungs, and find other strategies for releasing pent-up emotions without verbally or physically hurting anyone. If you start feeling out of control, please reach out to someone for much-deserved help.
Zero in on exactly what is stressing you out before you try to do something about it. For example, if you feel very upset about a mess that has been made, are you feeling angry because you think it was caused by carelessness, tired about having to clean it up, scared that you can't handle additional tasks, self-pity at having to do yet another thing that you didn't sign up for, or other feelings? This is a very important step in stress management.