Caring For Yourself

Providing care for a family member in need is a centuries-old act of kindness, love, and loyalty. Caregivers, friends, and family members make an incredible difference in the lives of their loved ones diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.  

As a caregiver, you assist with many things such as: grocery shopping, house cleaning, cooking, shopping, paying bills, giving medicine, toileting, bathing, dressing and eating.

There are many rewards and challenges to providing care to a loved one. There are times of intimacy, fun and laughter: research has found that caregivers report approximately three times more positive than negative emotions related to caregiving. Literature reports some of the following statistics and comments.  96% report feeling "loving", 90% report feeling appreciated, and 84% report feeling proud. Caregivers often experience increased closeness with their loved one, find it meaningful to care for someone and often report a sense of purpose. Caregiving can help clarify one's beliefs and deepen one's sense of their own values, compassion, and patience, improve their self confidence and self-esteem. It can also create a positive psychological change that is experienced as a result of the struggle with a highly challenging situation.

There are also times of sadness, frustration and exhaustion often caused by a lack of practical skills and support: caregivers often must travel through a health care system that, unfortunately, is not designed to manage chronic long-term illnesses. That means struggling to coordinate doctors, managing multiple prescription medications, monitoring for changes in conditions, and more. Studies have shown that caregivers are nearly twice as likely as the general population to develop multiple chronic illnesses due to stress and neglect of their own health and well-being. Caring for another person takes a lot of time, effort, and work. In addition, most caregivers juggle caregiving with full-time jobs and parenting and in the process, caregivers put their own needs aside. Caregivers often report that it is difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition, and doctor's visit and can often end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated, and sad.

The information below is divided into two sections: Manage PH together and Take Care of Yourself - by clicking on the purple headings, you will reveal the information under each heading.

Taking care of yourself as a caregiver is one of the most important things that you can do for your loved one. Do not be afraid to reach out to others as needed. This is not a sign of weakness but rather of strength. Remember, the care you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one.

Thank you to our contributors Maureen Tymkow, PH caregiver; and Carolyn Pugliese, RN, for their valuable insight into caregiving.

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