Tips for taking care of yourself when you are a caregiver

As the caregiver for someone with kidney disease, you are an important part of their health care team. Your support allows them to focus on finding the cause of their kidney disease and how to treat it.

However, being a caregiver can sometimes be tiring and stressful. One of the best ways to help your loved one is to take regular time-outs for self-care. Consider these tips for recharging your batteries. 

Take breaks 

Schedule time on your calendar each week to take breaks to focus on your own needs. Here are some ideas:  

  • Relax with a good book  
  • Have a phone call or video chat with other friends or family members 
  • Go for a walk by yourself or with someone else  
  • Try meditation or yoga as a calming activity 
  • Write in a journal 
  • Watch your favorite TV show 

Accept help, and ask for help when you need it 

Getting help can help lighten your workload and allow you to take those much-needed breaks: 

  • Consider making a list of daily or weekly tasks you would like help with: 
  • Grocery shopping 
  • Lawn care 
  • Household chores 
  • Driving your loved one to a doctor's appointment or dialysis 
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed or cannot be in two places at once, reach out to others for help. Most people are glad to help, especially if you ask them to do something specific. 

Take care of your own health 

Caregivers can be so focused on their loved one's health that they forget to take care of their own health. To help stay healthy in mind and body: 

  • Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night 
  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and include healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, yogurt, nuts and lean meats like fish and chicken 
  • Be active for at least 15 minutes a day, such as going for a walk, stretching or raking leaves 
  • Go to your yearly wellness check-up and get any medicines or tests your doctor recommends 
  • See a therapist or counselor if you are feeling more sad, tired or hopeless than usual  

Connect with others 

Talking with others with similar experiences can remind you that you are not alone. You can share feelings, make friends and learn from others on how to cope with your caregiving role. Try connecting with: 

  • A friend or family member who has also been a caregiver 
  • A therapist or counselor–ask your health insurance for someone covered by your health plan 
  • A member of the clergy such as a pastor, priest, rabbi or imam  
  • A caregiver support group that meets online or in-person:  
  • Kidney support groups by state–American Association of Kidney Patients  
  • Ask the social worker at your hospital for a list of other support groups 

See a list of resources to learn more about causes of kidney disease, including foundations and groups on specific rare diseases.