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Putting Yourself on the Priority List

Woman sitting with crossed legs stretching one arm over her head while other arm rest on the floor
When you’re responsible for someone else’s care – whether it’s an older parent, child, spouse, or another loved one – it can be far too easy to neglect your own health. But to do the best job as a caregiver, it’s important to put yourself on the priority list. Staying physically and emotionally healthy can help you reduce your stress level, better manage the responsibilities of caregiving and improve your quality of life. 

Doctor Visits and Medical Tests

Medical appointments are essential for the person you’re caring for – and they’re just as essential for you. Making time to visit your doctor regularly can help you avoid problems before they arise.
One way to ease the stress of medical visits is to find a doctor you feel comfortable talking to. You’ll want to select a doctor who will help you take steps to prevent problems or catch them early, rather than wait to treat conditions after they arise. 
Once you have found the right doctor, schedule regular check-ups and make sure you get the appropriate vaccines and screening tests at the right times. These include regular weight checks, blood pressure readings at least every two years, and a complete blood lipid panel at least every five years.
In addition, talk to your doctor about when you should have the following tests:
  • A fasting blood sugar test (usually every three years after age 45)
  • Regular screenings for colon and rectal cancers, beginning at age 50
  • Regular skin exams to look for signs of skin cancer
  • An eye exam every three to five years
  • Dental check-ups twice a year
  • For men: Screening for prostate cancer (beginning at age 50)
  • For women: Screening for breast cancer (with a mammogram) every year or two (usually beginning at age 40); annual pelvic exams and a Pap test at least every two to three years; regular thyroid tests after age 45; and a bone density test after menopause.

Health and Fitness

When it comes to general lifestyle, men and women alike should make an effort to develop and practice the same healthy habits, including:
  • Eating a balanced, nutritious diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress and negative emotions
  • Striving to maintain a good work-life balance
  • Developing positive, supportive relationships
  • Exercising regularly


More Care for Caregivers

Sunglasses sitting on a beach chair at the pool
Groceries on kitchen counter
Goldfish in tank swimming over colorful gravel
Feet of a person relaxing in a pool float on a lake
Three open Chinese food cartons with white rice, fried rice, and spicy Szechuan chicken and chopsticks, packets of soy sauce, duck sauce, and spicy mustard on wooden surface
Stop sign
Assistive chair in shower
Older woman holding cordless phone receiver to her ear
Espresso on marble countertop with flower design in foam
Older man on ladder clearing rain gutter
Folder labeled "Medical" in open file cabinet
An elderly person's New York City apartment
Person at cutting board slicing peppers
Woman sitting with crossed legs stretching one arm over her head while other arm rest on the floor
Physician checking a woman's blood pressure
Older couple holding hands
Elderly couple, woman, facing camera, resting her head on man's shoulder. Man is looking down at her.