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National Family Caregivers month: Five steps to reduce the stress of caregiving

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HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals recognize caregivers everywhere during National Family Caregivers Month. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 84% of caregivers need more help and information with at least 14 specific topics related to caregiving. The top three topics of concern to caregivers are:

  • Keeping their loved one safe
  • Managing their own stress
  • Making end-of-life decisions

Many caregivers face their own health problems and are under severe emotional stress and physical strain. With the amount of people needing care steadily growing, here are five ways to reduce the stress of caregiving:

1. Learn about the family member’s diagnosis. Knowledge about the medical condition helps caregivers understand the disease and plan ahead realistically.

2. Discuss finances and health care wishes. Although these conversations can be difficult, they help to better prepare for the future and relieve anxiety.

3. Invite family and close friends to discuss the care needed with and for their loved one. This meeting gives caregivers a change to say what they need, plan for care and ask others for help.

4. Take advantage of community resources. Meals on Wheels, adult day programs and respite programs can help relieve the workload and offer needed breaks. Look for caregiver educational programs that will increase skills and knowledge while offering support.

5. Find support. This may be the most important thing a caregiver can do as they take on more responsibility. Support groups can be helpful in connecting with others who are experiencing the same circumstances.

Debbie Lauer, director of post-acute care for HSHS Wisconsin which includes HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals says caregiving can be overwhelming at times. “It’s important to remember that taking good care of someone else only happens if self-care is a priority.”

To find more info, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services webpage at: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/adrc

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