Though rewarding, taking care of loved ones who cannot take care of themselves is hard work that is filled with many demands. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that taking care of yourself is a priority in order to be able to care for others.

A caregiver’s health can actually be negatively affected, research has shown that 57 percent of caregivers report they have skipped visits to the doctor because they put their loved one’s needs before their own. In addition, up to 49 percent report being “overwhelmed,” with nearly 70 percent meeting the criteria for clinical depression.

How can you, as a caregiver, make sure that ‘self-care’ stays on your to-do list? Set a small amount of time aside at the beginning of the year to schedule all of your annual medical appointments. Completing them all at once saves time and ensures you don’t forget any important visits.

self care for caregivers
  1. Schedule regular visits with your primary care physician. This can help you take charge of your health by staying current on examinations, screenings, and immunizations. Your primary care physician will help you stay on track by sending annual reminders about your upcoming screenings around the time of your birthday. The ultimate goal is to help you live a healthier and happier life through preventive care.
  2. Schedule your bi-annual visits with the dentist. Oral health is essential to general overall health. Keeping a consistent six-month visit is crucial to keep your teeth and gums in top shape. The American Dental Association recommends seeing your dentist at least two times each year to maintain optimal health and dental hygiene.
  3. Don’t forget to see your dermatologist. This annual visit often gets overlooked, as many do not schedule an appointment unless a skin irregularity is noticed, which in some cases is too late. Skin exams offer a simple way to ensure that your skin stays healthy. Skin cancer may seem like a less dangerous type of cancer, but one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  4. Don’t opt out of scheduling a colonoscopy appointment. One of the grimmer realities of life once you reach a certain age is needing to get a colonoscopy. Doctors recommend starting at the age of 50 and getting a followup every five years. Studies overwhelmingly show that 80 percent of colon cancers are preventable through recommended colonoscopies.
  5. For women, remember your annual mammogram appointment. Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scheduling regular mammogram appointments remain to be the only approved screening procedure for detecting breast cancer.

It is important to schedule regular annual appointments with your doctors. It’s a small investment to keep your own good health so you can continue to provide the care your loved one needs.