Self Preservation

By George F. March 02, 2011

Self Preservation

By: George F.

I need to apologize for not being on here for a while. I got caught up in school projects that took up a lot of my time and then that was complicated with some medical problems. I believe in this forum, and I think it is a great way for us to share information.

Wes wrote a blog entry on caregivers. I thought that he did a great job in his blog. We sometimes take our caregivers for granted, especially if they are family. I know that I could not be the person that I am without my caregiver. My caregiver is my wife, she has been beside me for the past 41 years. I am extremely fortunate, as the vast majority of spouses leave when a tragedy such as a spinal cord injury occurs.

The past few weeks, in addition to my school projects; my wife has been very busy not only with the never ending everyday chores, but running me to several doctor's appointments. I have a decubitus (bed sore), mine is from surgery. So, with this decubitus, we have had to go for biopsies, bone scans, and CBC's (blood tests). My condition is a little more complex, as I am anemic also. She has been able to manage to keep up with most things in spite of all the additional extra activities to take care of the doctor's orders.

One thing that caregivers need to keep in mind, is that they need to always be aware of their self preservation. They cannot be a caregiver if they are not healthy themselves. We as the recipients of the care, need to also be able to give our caregivers respite time and recognition. I am going to include a chart from the VA on caregivers and what to look for. For my wife, she has every Wednesday as her day out, she goes to Community Bible Study in the mornings and then just goes out for the afternoon. I also go twice a year to the VA for two weeks respite care to give her a complete break for that time period.

Top 10 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself So You Can Take Better Care of Others.

Caring for a loved one with an illness, injury, or disability can be very rewarding. It is also hard work and, at times, stressful and exhausting. You may begin to feel run down, depressed, or even sick. It is important that you take good care of yourself as well.


Ask for help – you can’t do it all. Make a list so when others ask what they can do, you have a list they can choose from


Take time for yourself – even caregivers need a vacation. Take advantage of respite care, home health care, or adult day health care for short or long breaks.


Take care of your health – the healthier you are the better caregiver you will be.

  • Keep regular eating and sleeping schedule
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks
  • Exercise daily or several times a week
  • Get regular medical and dental check-ups


Express your feelings – sharing your experiences with others can help. Feelings of frustration, sadness, anger, and depression are normal – so consider:

  • Talking to a friend, relative, or counselor
  • Joining a support group in your community

Tip 5

Talk with professionals. Contact your Veterans' VA Social Worker or your local services agency to help you find out about caregiver support services.


Watch for signs of burnout - contact your Veterans' VA Social Worker or your Doctor for assistance. You may be overwhelmed if you are:

  • Not eating well
  • Feeling lonely
  • Crying
  • Losing your temper more than usual


Take breaks – helps you refresh.

  • Find some time when you can safely step away
  • Make a time each day or week to do something you enjoy



Avoid isolation. Pursue a hobby, take a class, or join a reading group or telephone support group.


Give yourself a treat – you deserve it.

  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Order dinner from your favorite restaurant and have it delivered
  • Get a spa treatment
  • Watch a favorite TV show

TIP 10

Learn about your Veteran’s condition and how it can change over time. Lower your stress by knowing what to expect over time and how to care for their needs.