Taking steps to relieve caregiver stress helps prevent health problems. Also, taking care of yourself helps you take better care of your loved one.

Here are some services that OPICA provides and tips to help you prevent or manage caregiver stress:

    • There are caregiving resources to help you. For information how to sign-up for Access, financial assistance from the Veteran’s Administration or finding someone to help you at hoe, contact Sara Kaye, Director of Family Services.
    • Ask for and accept help. Make a list of ways others can help you. Let helpers choose what they would like to do. For instance, someone might sit with the person you care for while you do an errand. Someone else might pick up groceries for you.
    • Join a support group for caregivers. In addition to our adult day program to give you respite and a break from your caregiver responsibilities, and support groups. You can share stories, pick up caregiving tips, and get support from others who face the same challenges as you do.  Click here for a list of OPICA support groups.  OPICA also offers individual counseling
    • Take time for yourself. Stay in touch with family and friends, and do things you enjoy with your loved ones.
    • Visualize calm This might sound hokey, but studies have found that visualization works for relieving stress.  When you feel tense and frustrated, imagine yourself in a calm, relaxing situation. Think about the details – how it looks, sounds, and smells.  For example, imagine that you’re in a hot soothing shower with lavender-scented soap and your stress is washing away down the drain. Or, you’re walking on a warm beach, listening to the crashing waves, smelling the salt air, and watching a beautiful sunset.
    • Breathe easily Deep breaths increase the amount of oxygen in your blood, which helps you relax instantly. Shallow breathing makes your heart beat faster and your muscles tense – intensifying your stress. When you feel stressed, put your hand near your belly button. Inhale slowly through your nose and watch your hand move out as your belly expands. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat several times.
    • Take a whiff
      Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, rose, and eucalyptus are soothing and relaxing.  For a simple scent diffuser, put a few pieces of rock salt in a small container and add a few drops of an essential oil. When you feel stressed, open the container and breathe in the relaxing scent.  You could also get an aromatherapy oil diffuser to create a soothing scented atmosphere in the room. Some caregivers have said that using these types of room diffusers are a great way for both them and their older adult to feel more relaxed.
    • Take care of your health. Find time to be physically active on most days of the week, choose healthy foods, and get enough sleep.
    • See your doctor for regular checkups. Make sure to tell your doctor or nurse you are a caregiver. Also, tell her about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may have.

If you work outside the home and are feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break from your job. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for relatives. Ask your human resources office about your options.