Making Time for Yourself and Accepting Help

Making Time for Yourself and Accepting Help

This article can help you understand how to make time to focus on yourself and ways you can reach out to others for help.

KEY POINTS

  1. The needs of people with MM change over time—and that means your role as caregiver may change too
  2. Being an effective caregiver also means taking care of yourself
  3. Staying healthy and positive will help you carry out your caregiving tasks

Making Time to Focus on Yourself

This article has discussed many ways you can help support a person with MM. And it’s natural for caregivers to be so focused on caring for someone else that they sometimes forget about their own needs.

Being an effective caregiver also means taking care of yourself. And staying healthy and positive will help you carry out your caregiving tasks. 

Here are some ways you can take care of yourself:

  • Allow time for yourself. Take breaks to walk outside, watch TV, read, or take part in a hobby. And make time to relax and clear your mind so you can re-energize yourself to care for the person with MM.
  • Balance your schedule with that of the person with MM. Keep a planner or a calendar to make a list of tasks you need to do each day.
  • Express yourself. Try not to feel guilty if you become overwhelmed, because feeling scared, sad, or lonely is normal. Be open and honest with others about your emotions. Consider joining a caregiver support group or talking with a professional counselor.
  • Stay healthy. Monitor your own health, particularly if you have your own medical issues. Be sure to visit your doctor for routine check-ups. Watch for stress-related symptoms, such as depression, headaches, upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, irritability, or lack of focus. And do your best to maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep each night.
  • Reach out to others for help. Remember, you don’t have to do all of these things yourself. A caregiver’s job is to support—but you can ask for support from others as well.

Reaching Out to Others for Help

If you’re the only caregiver—or the primary caregiver—you may feel like you are handling everything yourself. But especially when MM comes back, there may be more to do than you can handle on your own. Asking others to help can benefit you and the person you’re caring for.

So don’t be afraid to reach out—even to people who haven’t asked what they can do. Sometimes others may want to help but may not know how to offer.

Here are some tips to help you share caregiving activities:

  • Be realistic about what you can do and learn how to pass on responsibilities
  • If someone does offer to help, be willing to accept it, no matter how much or how little the offer is
  • Let people know what they can do, as they might not know what is involved in caregiving
  • Make a plan with friends and family of what needs to get done now or later
  • Let go of tasks that aren’t important at the time, because you can always pick them up again
  • Get to know the skills and availability of others before charging them with specific caregiving tasks. Talk about exactly how they can help you—and clearly explain the tasks needed

Here are some specific tasks that others can help you with:

  • Chores like cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work, and childcare
  • Talking with you and listening to your feelings
  • Driving to doctor visits and running errands
  • Researching information about MM
  • Reaching out to others to give them updates on the well-being of the person with MM

You can also find support from patient advocacy groups, as well as websites and groups that offer support and guidance for caregivers. Visit the other tiles found in the Patient–Caregiver Support section for more on these groups.

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