Tips for the Family CaregiverThis story is adapted from The Pulse, the health and wellness magazine of Kindred Hospitals of Massachusetts.

Being a caregiver for a family member who is ill or disabled is an incredible show of kindness, compassion and dedication to a loved one. It can also be challenging and exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. While you want to do everything possible to keep your family member comfortable and content, sometimes it is a struggle. Pain management may be challenging; moods may be unpredictable or seem unwarranted. You may mourn the loss of your loved one’s abilities. You may be worn thin between caregiving and other commitments like your career, other family members or your social life.

Everyone has his or her limits as a caregiver. It’s important to know your limits and respect them.

“It’s a good idea for both the caregiver and the family member being cared for to understand the role of the caregiver. This may be different for different caregivers depending on the relationship with the family member, other responsibilities of the caregiver, the type and frequency of attention the family member needs,” says Victoria Furci, Area Director of Case Management for Kindred Hospital Northeast – Stoughton. “Oftentimes the caregiver wants to do it all. But it’s important to receive help from healthcare professionals, family, friends and volunteers. The caregiver’s role should be to provide a safe, healthy living environment for the family member, wherever that may be.”

If you are a family caregiver, or think you might assume that role some day, consider the following tips to help you along the way.

Assess your abilities
Knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses will help you keep a realistic approach and better prepare you and your loved one for what you can reasonably do.

When people offer to help, accept it
In fact, you can and should reach out to others for help.

Educate yourself
Learn as much about your family member’s illness or condition as much as possible. The information will empower you and most likely help you in providing the best care possible to your loved one.

Watch out for caregiver fatigue or signs of depression
It may become an overwhelming commitment, and it is important to seek professional help when you need it.

Take care of yourself
As a caregiver, it is easy to put all of your efforts into caring for your loved one to the point where there is no time or energy to care for yourself. Caregiving is hard; you deserve quality time just for you.