5. I will take time for myself.
Don't drop out of your book club or any other activity that brings you joy. Keeping up with the activities and relationships that stimulate your mind and soul is essential.
6. I will get enough sleep.
No one can function when sleep-deprived. Sleep loss cripples your ability to concentrate, problem solve and remember. Try to get eight hours a night. Nap when the person you're caring for does. Every so often, take a break: Ask someone to come over for a few hours or to take Mom to respite care for an afternoon. Mom will be fine. And you'll feel much better.
7. I will find time to exercise.
As one expert said, aerobic exercise is Miracle Gro for the brain. It not only keeps the body in shape, but it keeps the brain sharp. If you can't get to the gym, buy or download an exercise video. Ask a friend to pinch hit for you while you walk or jog for 30 minutes. Find way to make it happen.
8. I will not neglect my own family.
Yes, your parent needs you. But so does your spouse (and your kids). Consider hiring a night caregiver a few times a week so you can be home for dinner or go out to a movie — or better yet, an overnight away.
9. I will keep my work life in order.
If you work outside the home and are finding that you're not doing either job as well as you would like, consider taking a break from your job. Employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for relatives. Check with your human resources department to learn about your options for unpaid leave or flextime, job-sharing or telecommute policies.
10. I will learn to say no.
Trim down on your other responsibilities. The church, PTA, hospital auxiliary and library will find others to help when you're devoting your time to caregiving. And you'll be back. Remember: No one can do everything all the time. Not even you.
11. I will veg out in front of the TV.
Rent reruns of I Love Lucy. Or download laughing baby videos from YouTube. Humor lightens your load and lifts everyone spirits. We don't do it enough.
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