What can caregivers do to help look after themselves and where can they go for information and support?
Looking after oneself is something that not many of us are good at. It’s not something that we think about consciously. And there are different ways to approach self care as caregivers.
First and foremost, if we’re looking at pure self care, there are many very useful and informative books that focus on caregiving, and most of the shelf is devoted to books on caregiving for example.
On Internet, there are a number of different sites that give caregivers the opportunity to get ideas about how other people are coping.
Within communities, most communities have either social service agencies or formalized agencies dedicated to caregiving. Here in Montreal for example, we have the CLSC René-Cassin, which has a formal program for caregiver drop-in, and I’m sure those exist in many cities across Canada.
Additionally almost every disease agency— I use the word agency in a broad sense—any disease organization that is nongovernmental that addresses an illness—Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart & Stroke Foundation—all of them are available to hear from caregivers and provide them with some degree of help and support, and most of that is to direct them to resources that are out in the community.
I would also say that an untapped source of support is the family physician, or the primary doctor that one is seeing. And family physicians are being increasingly sensitized to the burdens that caregivers are experiencing, and they’re being increasingly sensitized to the role that family physicians have and must play in providing support to caregivers and the burdens that they are experiencing.
More from: Mark Yaffe