Being a Caretaker

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Being a Caretaker

A caretaker is someone who provides support at home for parents, brothers or sisters, grandparents or any other family member who has a disability, mental illness or other long-term illness.

Being a caretaker is an important job. While it can be rewarding, there might be times when you feel frustrated, angry, or alone. As a caretaker, you often have a large responsibility. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your family member. In fact, if you’re not well, it’s hard to provide good care to another.

Take time for yourself

Make time to do something that you enjoy. You may want to play a sport, spend time with friends, listen to music, go for a walk or out to a movie. It may be hard to fit into your caregiving schedule, but it’s essential so that you can re-energize.

Share the care

One of the ways to ensure you have time for yourself is to share your responsibility with someone else. This could be a sister, brother, aunt, uncle or grandparent. If you’re lucky enough to have several family and friends nearby, schedule each of them to help for even just 30-60 minutes at a regular time each week. Certain members of your support network may be able to help in other important ways, such as picking up groceries or giving rides to medical appointments.

Learn about it

As a caregiver, learning about your relative’s illness/disability will help you understand their behavior or moods. If you are giving medication, it’s a good idea to know about possible side effects, too.

Talk to someone

It’s normal for you to have times when you are feeling angry, frustrated, guilty, sad, scared or worried. During those times, it may be helpful to talk to someone about how you feel. Friends, other caregivers, and family are good possibilities. If these feelings are keeping you from doing day-to-day things, it may be helpful to talk to a counselor.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.


Many articles in this section were adapted from WeRNative.org, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth