Does your home seem less accommodating than it used to? Join the club. That tends to happen as we age. Toilets are suddenly too low, cabinets too high, and steps and loose rugs make getting around perilous, especially if you have stiff, arthritic joints. Karen Kassik discovered this in 2002, when she brought her then 66-year-old mother to live in her two-bedroom home in Winter Park, Fla.
"I found out very quickly how inadequate this little house was," she recalls.
Kassik, 45, used her background...
Ask for help. You can't do everything yourself, so don't try. Get other family members and friends involved.
Be specific about what you need. Have your brother do a round of grocery shopping. See if a neighbor can keep an eye on things for half an hour while take a break. Look into community resources and see what sort of help is available.
Get support. If your friends have trouble understanding your situation, join a caregiver support group. You'll meet people who know what you're going through and can offer advice. Try your local area agency on aging to find out about groups near you.
Take care of your body. Make sure you don't ignore your own health. Get regular checkups. Try to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
Stay mentally healthy. Caregiving can be emotionally draining, but you don't want to let that turn into feelings of depression. If you feel overwhelmed, set up an appointment with a counselor or therapist.
Focus on what’s most important. You may sometimes feel like you have more things to do in a day than you have time for. So concentrate on what you have to get done and let the rest go. The world won't end if you put off cleaning out the shed for a few months or if you skip having the New Year's party this year.
Stay connected. Make an effort to keep close to the people you care about. You don't want to let your workload as a caregiver put a strain on your other relationships. Your friends and family can be a huge source of support while you take care of your loved one.
Consider taking a leave from work. Time off from your job may not be an option financially. But remember that the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick relative.