As a caregiver, you may think your first responsibility is to your loved one, but it's really to yourself. The Family Caregiver Alliance/National Center on Caregiving's 2006 paper, "A Population At Risk," documents many risks to the physical and mental health of family caregivers—including an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. Caregivers also report increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
To do the best for your loved one, you must be in the best possible health yourself. That means getting professional help and following doctors' orders for your mental and physical health. It also means keeping your energy level up and reducing your risks by eating a balanced, nutritious diet, getting regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and doing things you enjoy. That's not selfish, it's smart.
"This content was last reviewed on 12/28/2011."
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