For most people with a chronic disease like multiple sclerosis, the biggest piece of your support network is your care partner. Care partners – whether they be a best friend, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, or other family member – are an essential part of any support network. But like the people they care for, care partners need help and resources to care for themselves and prevent care partner burn out.
The Family Caregiver Alliance reports that 1 in 10 care partners has experienced a decline in physical health as a result of caregiving. Due to the stress and daily struggles of life with a chronic disease, many care partners choose to spend their time and energy on their partner’s health and wellbeing, rather than their own. Some small, but very important things that all care partners should do for themselves to prevent health decline are:
- Make appointments with doctors and dentists for regular checkups and screenings.
- Have routine medical testing done such as checking cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mammograms, or prostate exams.
- Make sure to get enough sleep. It is much easier to focus on tasks of the day if you are well rested.
- Maintain social interaction with friends and family who are important to you.
- Make sure there is still some “me” time. If you have a hobby that you enjoy, be sure to keep up with it, even if only in small increments.
Most importantly, care partners should always feel comfortable asking for help. Sometimes, one care partner is not enough and they need a break. Sometimes, an individual with MS needs specific kinds of help that requires a specialist. Resources are available for individuals with MS and their care partners for these situations, and many more.
To learn more about care partner resources, challenges, and care partner stories feel free to read over our cover story from the Summer/Fall 2014 edition of The Motivator, Care Partners: The People Who Make a Difference in Our Lives.