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Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 11:19 AM
3 minutes

Caring for caregivers: resources to help you in your caretaking role

When taking care of others, it's important to take care of yourself. We've put together some education to help you.
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A young woman with dark skin hugs an older woman with lighter skin who is wearing a headscarf. They are both smiling.
Many of us are doing our best to care for a loved one who needs help. It’s a tough job that can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed and alone. 

April’s HealthQuest was an opportunity for caregivers to receive encouragement, learn about helpful resources and get practical advice on topics like: 
  • Medicare 
  • Legal issues 
  • Adult day program 
  • Placement issues 

Community partnered with Valley Caregiver Resource Center on the live, in-person event which featured a discussion led by Bonnie Her, family medicine provider with Community Health Partners.  

Dr. Her presented information about the benefits and stresses of being a caretaker and offered tips on how you can care for yourself, and where to find help. 

Older adults will soon make up one-fifth of the population 

If you’re not already caring for someone in your family, it’s possible you will be in the future.  

Family caregivers provide 90% of unpaid care, and that number is expected to go up as the American population ages. It’s estimated that by 2030, one in five adults will be 65 years or older, and that by 2034, older adults will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. 

A significant number of these older adults will require assistance with activities ranging from walking, bathing and eating, to shopping, taking care of finances and transportation to doctor visits.

Caregiving comes with benefits … and stresses 

The impact of caring for another can be overwhelming and may cause you significant stress. This stress can have effects that show up in many ways: 

A white woman in her 30s with long brown hair holds her head in her hand. Before her is a glass of red wine.Physical Impacts 
  • Poor health 
  • Less self care/preventative care 
  • Worsening health conditions 

Psychological Impacts 
  • Insomnia 
  • Depression 
  • Increased anxiety and drug or alcohol use 

Financial Impacts 
  • Absenteeism or reduced work hours 
  • Loss of salary benefits 

Being a caregiver can be a tough job — so why do we do it? “There’s a lot of reasons,” said Dr. Her. “Most of it is just personal satisfaction.”  

She listed relieving another person’s discomfort, feeling useful and needed, finding more meaning in life, building stronger relationships and passing on a tradition of caring as benefits of being a caregiver. 

7 ways to care for yourself 

Managing stress is key in taking care of yourself. Dr. Her offered several tips to remember in your role as caretaker:
  1. Educate yourself about the disease your family member is facing and how it may affect their behavior, pain level and quality of life. 
  2. Ask for and accept help from family, friends, neighbors, workplace, faith and other local organizations. 
  3. Protect and schedule “me time” for something you enjoy or need to get done and make it non-negotiable. Me time is not selfish. 
  4. Find time for self care. This includes exercise, eating well and sleeping. You can’t take care of someone else if you’re not taking care of yourself. 
  5. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. You may not feel like it’s enough, but you must believe it’s the best you can do. 
  6. Join a support group, whether in person or through social media. We’re a social species, and there’s comfort in finding others who can relate to what we’re going through. 
  7. Watch out for symptoms of depression, such as crying more, sleeping either more or less than usual, increased or decreased appetite or lack of interest in your usual activities.  

 Above all, “Celebrate the small victories — it does make a difference,” said Dr. Her. “If you got her dressed and you didn’t struggle, ‘Yay!’ We celebrate that day.” 

Help is available 

The important thing to remember as a caregiver is that you’re not alone. There are local and national resources available to assist with a variety of needs: 

Close-up of a hand belonging to a white male resting on the shoulder of a woman with dark hair and skin, who is seen from behind.Valley Caregiver Resource Center 
Valley Caregiver Resource Center (VCRC) offers a comprehensive umbrella of services designed to help elders and their families master the challenges that accompany the aging process. 

Fresno-Madera Agency on Aging 
Services offered through the Family Caregiver Support Program provide caregivers with practical tools to reduce stress and avoid burnout. 

The Fresno Center Adult Day Health Care Center  
Provides medical, therapeutic, rehabilitative, and recreational services for adults 18 years or older with chronic medical illnesses, cognitive decline and/or mental health conditions.  

UCSF – Fresno Alzheimer’s & Memory Center 
Provides education, social support, and care management to caregivers, including overview of the We Care program, an online tool made custom for your needs. 

Clovis Senior Activity Center Services
Clovis Senior Services sponsors a wide range of classes, programs, and activities to promote healthy and independent living for individuals 50 years and older. 

Alzheimer’s Association
Find support, community and a 24-hour helpline, as well as other caregiver resources. 

Join us for our next HealthQuest event 

HealthQuest is a live event featuring a medical expert discussing the health issues that are important to you and your family. Each month, a different health professional presents a topic within their specialty. Information and registration for HealthQuest can be found in the weeks prior to each event.  
For more health- and wellness-related classes, groups and events, visit our events calendar
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