Epilepsy Caregivers & Mental Health

The role of a caregiver for a person with epilepsy is a big one. This can be a parent, guardian, partner, family member, or friend, amongst many others. A recent survey found that 53% of epilepsy carers experienced anxiety and 31% have had insomnia. A caregiver’s mental health and well-being are just at important and valued as the loved one with epilepsy.  

Caregiver burden’ is a universal term that describes how caregivers may experience various challenges around managing emotions, balancing social outlets and support, and financial needs when looking after others. Taking care of yourself is so important when you are caring for someone with epilepsy. It can give you more energy, help you stay motivated, and prevent burnout. By taking the time for your own health and wellness, you will also be able to care for your loved one more effectively too. 

Here are five ways to take care of yourself to ensure you don’t burn out from Epsy Health.

Monitor your own health and wellness.

When you are caring for others, it’s important to watch out for your own mental and physical health too. Warning signs that you are becoming overly stressed include:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Struggling to sleep (aim for 8 hours per night)
  • Noticing you get sick more than normal
  • Feeling more irritable than usual
  • Spending less time with friends and family

If you notice these kinds of things happening, draw up a plan that includes your own needs and boundaries to ensure they get looked after too and/or identify professional tools and support as needed.

Take time for yourself

Do you feel like you spend your whole time caring for your loved ones? While that is admirable, it is also important to take time to ‘recharge your batteries’. If possible, set aside at least one afternoon per week where you spend time on your own (or with friends/family) where you can relax. This will give you much more energy for the rest of the week.

Ask for help

There is nothing wrong with asking for help – most people will be more than happy to give you a hand. Ask your partner, a family member, or friends to help with things like grocery shopping or looking after your loved one for a couple of hours as needed.

Join the community

The Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota is committed to ensuring no one journeys through epilepsy alone. Take a look at our upcoming social events or join a virtual connect group.

Exercise and implement a healthy diet

Exercise and a healthy diet are useful methods for managing stress, staying healthy, and sleeping well. If you can, try and set aside 30 minutes every day for some form of exercise (things like running, yoga, meditation, or even a walk around the block). Similarly, eating healthy, fresh, and nutritious foods can energize you and make you feel more balanced.

The Roles of Caregivers

Caregivers play many roles in the lives of loved ones. Meela Keobounpheng, along with her parents Talia and Daniel, have been managing a changing epilepsy diagnosis for the past nine years.

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