Going the distance

Caretakers: Your needs matter too

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. January 10, 2014

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

When a loved one becomes ill and needs care, it is often a partner, child or sibling who takes on the role of caregiver. Although being a caretaker can extremely rewarding, it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. What's a caregiver to do? There are no easy or quick solutions.

However, there are some tactics that every caregiver needs to keep in mind:

  • Pay attention to your needs. Self-care is of overarching importance. You can't care for your loved one if you aren't taking care of yourself. This means getting a good night's sleep. This means exercise. This means a prudent diet. And it means having a primary care provider to look after your health care needs.
  • Know when to say when. No one ever said that you should put yourself in harm's way to care for others. If violent or abusive behavior is directed at you, seek assistance. There are trained professionals who have skills to deal with these situations.
  • Find some breathing room. Everyone needs some time alone to reflect, pray or meditate. This is not optional. You need to find a way to recharge. No one benefits if you let your battery run out.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Jan. 10, 2014