OLYMPIA - Nearly one-half million Washington residents, almost 9 percent of the population, who are family caregivers could be facing a less than happy Thanksgiving holiday.

However, there are ways for the 540,000 people who care for loved ones or care for friends with chronic illnesses or serious disabilities to learn to cope with the holiday seasonal stress that surfaces this time of year.

Guilt and frustration are common among caregivers as they reflect on all of the exciting holiday things they and their loved ones used to do. This creates stress for caregivers as they try to get more things done while feeling they're not doing enough.

Studies confirm that most who provide major care for parents experience stress. The consequences for caregivers are that prolonged stress can have serious physical and emotional consequences.

What caregivers must do during the holidays - and during the rest of the year - is take care of their own health by eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and treating depression.

These are just a few of the practical recommendations available online at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Aging and Disability Services Administration (ADSA) Web site at (http://www.adsa.dshs.wa.gov/topics/caregiving/holidays.htm).

Organization can be a key to limiting stress if a caregiver makes lists, paces to avoid exhaustion and sets limits while remembering to feel good about all the daily accomplishments.

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