By Amy Walters, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

Below is a summary handout 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