Information You Should Know
- Name and telephone number of all your loved one’s health care providers.
- Medical conditions and treatment plans, including medications, special diets, or activities.
- Where vital information about bank accounts, wills, and insurance is kept.
- Community agencies and other resources that assist in caregiving.
Home Safety Checklist
Caregivers should be aware of these potential dangers in the home when caring for an impaired person:
- Poisons, medicines, and hazardous products
- Water temperature — adjust setting to avoid burns from hot water.
- Emergency exits, locks to secure house, and if necessary, door alarms, and identification bracelets.
- Fire hazards such as stoves, other appliances, cigarettes, lighters, and matches.
- Sharp objects such as knives, razors, or sewing needles.
- Loose rugs, furniture in the way, and cluttered pathways.
- Inadequate lighting.
Ways to Reduce Stress
- Don’t take on more responsibility than you can handle. Learn to say "no" or get someone else to help.
- Use relaxation techniques like meditating, visualizing comforting scenes, or listening to music.
- Take one thing at a time. If you have an overwhelming amount of things that need your attention, pick one task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, move on to the next one.
- Make your lifestyle as healthy as possible by eating nutritious meals, limiting caffeine and alcohol, not smoking, getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and balancing work and recreation.
- Schedule time to take a break and do things that you enjoy.
- Have family and friends you can turn to for love, support, and guidance.
- Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. Information can be empowering.
- Consider joining a support group.
- See your doctor if the stress begins to feel overwhelming.
- Your doctor or other health professional may help you find resources in the community to give you the support you need.
For More Information
- National Mental Health Association at (800) 969-6642 or (800) 433-5959 (TTY). Web site: www.nmha.org.
- Family Caregiver Alliance at (415) 434-3388, or in California at (800) 445-8106). Web site: www.caregiver.org.
Source: Schultz R, Beach SR. Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects Study. JAMA 1999; 282:2,215-2,219.