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Caregivers play a crucial role for people with macular degeneration, and their participation can make a huge difference for people who are trying to maintain as much independence as they can.

Picture: Woman smiling with eyes closed sitting cross-legged on floor

While being a caregiver is rewarding, it can also be frustrating and tiring at times. Looking after someone with a chronic, degenerative condition requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy. As well, the addition of new responsibilities to your life can affect your extended family and friends. While you are caring for someone else, it is important to care for yourself to keep your spirits and health strong and to remain positive for your charge.

Here are five ways caregivers can care for themselves while supporting someone with a chronic, degenerative eye condition.

  1. Make time for yourself. This might mean asking a friend or family member to take over for you for a period of time. Or ask the doctor to suggest a list of organizations that offer services for people with macular degeneration and support for caregivers. Having a back-up plan for when you need time for yourself can keep you from feeling overwhelmed and ensure that the person you are caring for will be in safe hands no matter what.

  2. Stay healthy. Don’t ignore your own health. See your own doctors as needed, eat well and exercise regularly. If you are feeling overwhelmed, speaking with a mental health professional may help you manage anxiety and stress. Consider taking up meditation or doing breathing exercises to help stay calm.

  3. Join a support group. Local or online support groups for caregivers can connect you with others who are in a similar situation. They can offer great suggestions for coping, along with comfort and understanding. 

  4. Focus on the positive. Being a caregiver can be stressful, so try to be kind to yourself. You are helping someone navigate a tricky landscape, so celebrate successes and don’t let setbacks get you down.

  5. Set realistic expectations. Upfront and open, ongoing conversation with your friend or loved one about what they expect from you and what you are willing and able to offer can help avoid misunderstandings. If these expectations do not align, try to find ways to compromise.

    For more information on creating a checklist for caregivers, click here.

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