Chronic Lung Disease: Coping Tips for Caregivers
When someone you love has chronic lung disease, this can bring changes to both your lives. As a caregiver, you may have to support your loved one in new ways. This may be true whether you are caring for your spouse, your partner, a family member, or a friend. Help yourself by learning coping strategies for the possible stresses of your role.
Coping with Your Emotions
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions as you manage your role. You may feel sad, or even fear for your loved one’s future health. At times, you may resent the effect caregiving has on your life. It’s important to accept these feelings. They are normal. If you find yourself feeling stressed, seek help by reaching out to family members or friends. Also, speak with a healthcare provider. He or she can refer you to a counselor and other support services.
Taking Care of Yourself
Take time to manage your health and to refresh your mind and spirit. This gives you the energy to perform your daily routine. Here are ways to keep yourself feeling good:
Get enough sleep. Aim for 8 hours a day. Keep naps short so you can sleep at night. Limit alcohol and caffeine. These can affect how well you sleep.
Eat right. What you eat affects how you feel. Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat meat and dairy products.
Exercise. Try to do some form of physical activity at least 30 minutes a day. Breaking up your activity into three 10-minute sessions can make it easier.
Making Time for You
Your needs are also important. Give yourself permission to maintain a life of your own. Take breaks from caregiving to relax and have fun. Here are some suggestions:
Share a meal with others.
Pursue a hobby.
Play cards or board games with family and friends.
Create a space in your home where you can retreat when needed.
You may need help with caregiving. Knowing you can count on others can be a relief. Keep these tips in mind:
Make a list of things other people can help with. Ask family and friends to handle tasks such as running errands, giving rides, or preparing meals.
Make use of adult daycare and respite services, and home health aide programs. These provide temporary care for your loved one, when needed. Check the Internet or the phone book for organizations such as your local Visiting Nurse Association.
Join a support group for people with chronic lung disease and their caregivers. This can help you feel that you’re not alone. You’ll learn coping strategies and get advice from others going through the same things you are. Religion and faith-based organizations may be a source of strength and support for you also. Reach out to a leader in your faith community to discuss your spiritual needs.