By Amy Walters, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

If you missed this month’s webinar on Psychosocial Factors Affecting Children and Families Living with Chronic Illness, the recording is now available! In addition, below is a handout to accompany the presentation about understanding and helping the caregivers in our life.

What We Know About Caregivers

  • Report feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and lonely
  • Report high levels of stress and depressed symptoms
  • Are tired and sleep deprived
  • Have higher rates of illness (2x higher) but seek medical attention less often
  • Often neglect their own self care
  • Experience more relationship conflicts
  • Feel a sense of loss – independence, freedom, dreams for the future
  • Attitude matters – those who believe they are not effective have higher levels of stress and depression
  • Strong social support systems serve as a buffer for stress, depression, and illness

What We Can Do

Think EASY

“E” – Expectations

  • Communicate – discuss goals, roles, needs for help
  • Manage – approach each day as “wait and see”
  • Prepare for physician visits – What are my questions? What do I need?
  • Prepare yourself for the journey – attitude sets the tone

“A” – Adaptations

  • Be flexible
  • Be open to change – in treatment, plans and dreams
  • Allow yourself to grieve your losses and dream new dreams

“S” – Support

  • Create an active network (in person, phone, computer)
  • Educate yourself
  • Develop a strong professional care team
  • Nurture your relationships – “chronic illness isn’t for sissies”
  • Ask for help

“Y” – You (self care)

  • Self care is a necessity, not a luxury
  • Exercise and be active
  • Sleep
  • Laugh-humor is a powerful stress reliever
  • Develop outside interests
  • Monitor emotional and physical health and seek medical care
  • Practice stress management
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