Living With a Disease

Looking After Yourself While Caring For a Loved One

A man is holding the hand of an elderly person.

In Europe there are an estimated 100 million carers1 providing emotional, financial, nursing, administrative, and other support on a daily or ad hoc basis for their loved ones. The contribution that carers make for loved ones who are living with serious illnesses is immense; they provide over 80% of all care2, yet their role is not always acknowledged.

Being mindful of your own needs while caring for others

Taking on a caring role can be both rewarding and overwhelming. Devoting significant amounts of time and energy to care for others can be stressful, isolating and exhausting. If you are caring for someone, it is important to also remain mindful of your own needs. It might not seem like a priority, especially if you are supporting someone you care about with a serious medical condition, but working on your own physical and mental health is vital. Looking after your own wellbeing is beneficial not only for you, but also for the person you are caring for – you can only maintain the support they need if you are healthy yourself.

Practicing self-care

Some simple steps that you can take to ensure your well being include:

  • Regular exercise: even a short walk can help improve mood and contribute to a better night’s sleep.

  • Healthy nutrition: maintaining a balanced diet ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to support others.

  • Social interaction: keeping up with friendships, even if it is just via telephone calls, emails or texts.

  • Relaxation methods: practicing yoga, meditation or mindfulness can help you to unwind.

  • Carer organizations: look up your local carer organization for guidance, support and information. These groups may also provide the opportunity to connect with other carers with whom you can share your experiences.

  • Carer benefits: research potential carer entitlements or financial benefits that could help ease the strain on other aspects of your day-to-day life.

  • Share the load: don’t shy away from accepting offers of help and, if you can, delegate jobs such as shopping, cooking and cleaning.

  • Take breaks: Friends, family and respite care services may be able to provide you with some regular time out for you to rest and recharge.

Honoring carers

We captured the invaluable contribution made by those caring for loved ones in a series of videos for our campaign #ByMySide. The videos celebrate the strength, resilience and courage of patients impacted by heart and blood diseases while honoring those carers who selflessly provide support and compassion for loved ones.


To watch the entire #ByMySide video series on YouTube, please click here.




1 European Commission, The TRACK project supports informal carers, Last accessed December 2018
2 Ibid