A caregiver is an unpaid or paid person who helps another individual with an impairment with his or her activities of daily living. Any person with a health impairment might use caregiving services to address their difficulties. (Wikipedia)
This sounds a little cold because most of you caregivers are close loving family members or really good friends who just understand that a sick person needs your attention. That said you will have to take care of yourself also to be able to take care of the patient.
Take Care of Yourself
Caregivers often sacrifice themselves for the care of a patient and lack personal time. Both physically and emotionally it can be a draining daily 24/7 “job”. Taking time off will revitalize you and gives you the energy to care. If there are more caregivers you have to find time to do things that you personally or professionally want to (or have to) do. Don’t pull out of your social live completely. Don’t stretch yourself by finding and sharing resources and personal experiences. Support groups or Facebook groups have caregivers who do just that. Have lunch with other caregivers to share experiences and to talk with people who can understand your situation.
Don't be blind or too proud. Look around for people who want to help you. Help may be offered but you have to know what to answer when people ask what they can do to help you. Spending time with the patient, doing groceries, church visits etc. Make a short list for yourself. Understand that accepting help is a good thing.
Knowledge is everything. Pulmonary Fibrosis is an unknown disease and the more you know the better. Get as much information about IPF as you can and share it with the other caregivers. Knowledge is everything and it also makes it easier to deal with the disease, doctors, institutions etc. It makes it so much convincing when you explain what IPF is or what the patient's needs are.
You are Important
You do an amazing job in caring for your loved one. An IPF patient may not always be easy and sometimes very difficult because of the situation she/he in but imagine where she/he would be without you. Take strength from that. You're the lifeline and it is important that you realize how valuable you are although some may never tell you. Caregiving is a 24/7 "job" and doing the best you can will be better than what any institution will have to offer.
Coping with Stress and Depression
Handling stress in this situation is very important because a patient can be very demanding. Set limits to what you can and free time to take care of yourself. Find somebody to talk about your issues and make sure not to drown in your caregiver role. Spiritual guidance or professional counseling can help in this. Try time for exercise, restaurant visits, movies, shopping or other activities. Understand that if you immerse yourself too much in the caregiver’s role and turn a blind eye to your own needs that this can easily lead to depression. Notice early signs of depression and make sure to see your doctor.
Lessons for the Patient
You, the patient can make life so much easier for your caregiver(s).
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
Believe you can and you’re halfway there.