As a caregiver, you have to be realistic about what can and can't be controlled. You can't
control the fact that your loved one has a chronic or progressive disease or the impact of that disease. But you CAN control how you respond to the situation.
The first step is taking ownership of your caregiver role and admitting that it might be a long-term job. This acknowledgement allows you to plan and seek help. The National Family Caregivers Association has reported that this simple
shift in attitude can have a profound impact on your situation. By accepting the job and putting a name on it, you will be less inclined to set yourself up for stress and emotions that prevent you from seeking help.
The next step is to understand the scope of long-term caregiving. If you don't pace yourself, you're going to be depleted before the job is done. Think of caregiving as a marathon, not a sprint. Marathoners get through a race by pacing themselves
and getting sustenance and water along the way. A lot of people throw themselves into a "caregiving frenzy" that quickly leads to emotional and physical burnout. Understand that long-term caregiving can have long-term effects. Set your
pace for a long race and accept the reality that you will need help along the way. The earlier you understand pacing and asking for help, the better you and your loved one will do.
Be Realistic. Think Positive. Your attitude can be the biggest barrier to taking care of yourself and doing the best job for your loved one. Your mind will believe what you tell it. Tell it that you're
a caregiver, that you need to stay healthy, that you have rights and that you will do the best you can but you'll have to find help for certain things.
Heart Insight is the American Heart Association’s FREE digital-only, quarterly magazine for patients, families, and caregivers, which focuses on the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and related conditions.