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Caring for a loved one? Learn how to care for yourself, too

Caring for an elderly, disabled or chronically ill loved one can be an admirable and rewarding task. But caregivers can experience stress, burnout and a loss of identity due to the time, money and emotional support they provide.

Many caregivers have other people and obligations in their lives they need to focus on as well. With only 24 hours in each day, caregivers can feel as if they don’t have time for themselves. Fortunately, help is available.

“It is easy for family caregivers to put their own needs aside,” said Vivien Bergl, LCSW, a consultant at Yale New Haven Health’s Employee and Family Resources (EFR) program. “Self-care is extremely important for caregivers, not only so they can be at their best to help others, but for their own mental and physical wellbeing.

Community services, counseling and support groups are available for assistance and respite.”

Working caregivers can also feel the strain of trying to balance caregiving with their jobs.

“As much as 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties,” said EFR coordinator Bud Wassell. “They may arrive to work late, leave early, take time off or receive calls during working hours. Worries about how caregiving impacts their jobs can pile on top of worries that come with caregiving itself and leave people feeling very burned out.”

YNHHS employees and their loved ones can call EFR, 1-877-275-6226, or visit 24/7, 365 days a year to access resources and information to help caregivers find relief. All contact with EFR is confidential. On Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 2 pm, EFR is offering a webinar for all employees: “Caregivers: Take care of yourself so you can be at your best.” Participants will learn how to manage the stresses of caregiving and employ and enjoy self-care practices. Register on the employee intranet or visit this page.