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10 tips to avoid caregiver burnout

A woman smiles as her two adult children kiss her on the cheeks.

Nov. 26, 2018—Caregiving is a labor of love that millions of Americans take on with no training. That responsibility can be enormously stressful. Now a small study suggests that African American caregivers may be better able to cope with this strain than their Caucasian peers.

It found that black caregivers were less likely than white caregivers to feel distressed or depressed. And this may be due to their stronger social support.

Researchers surveyed 90 people providing end-of-life care for cancer patients. Forty-four were black, 46 were white. African Americans reported much less distress, depression and overall burden from caregiving.

The study also found how well-prepared the caregivers were for their new role was a major factor in their mental health. Caregivers of any race who said they had adequate information and support were the least likely to feel troubled.

Religion also played a role. African Americans were also more likely to identify church or faith-based groups as a source of social support. That may explain their greater resilience.

Researchers reported their findings at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Ease your burden

To ease the emotional wear and tear of caring for an ailing partner, parent or child, the Caregiver Action Network offers these 10 tips:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers—you're not alone.
  2. Take care of your own health too.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific ways people can help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression—in yourself or your loved one—and get professional help if needed.
  7. Take frequent breaks from caregiving.
  8. Organize medical information so it's up-to-date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best job you can.

Tending to a faraway loved one?

Long-distance caregiving poses some unique challenges. But these tips can help you meet them.

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