* LOOK after your physical, emotional and psychological health – talk to your GP or public health nurse, have check-ups, get the flu vaccine and the appropriate health exams.
* Have an emergency plan in place for when you become ill.
* Avail of respite care.
* Have reasonable expectations of yourself and set realistic goals – establish your limits and recognise that there is a point beyond which you cannot continue.
* Have a strategy to help control the destructive effects of stress.
* Make exercise a priority. Find some way to get time for yourself – a minimum of half an hour to get out for a walk every day is crucial.
* Asking for help when you need it is not a sign of failure.
* Investigate relaxation techniques: "Walking is very good," says Barron. Caring for Carers Ireland provides therapeutic hand care, laughter therapy and family mediation to show carers how to ask for help, say no and negotiate with family members.
* Involve others early on in the caring situation – encourage family and friends to help: "Very often caring within families falls to one person," says Barron. "We believe all family members should be involved in providing care and support."
* Have a friend outside of the family circle; someone you can let off steam to. There's no substitute for someone who will just listen.
* Join one of the 109 Caring for Carer's groups around the country.