ANNOUNCER: When Abby Thomas learned her husband had cancer, her reaction was what you would expect.
ABBY THOMAS: Pure panic and fright and just feeling like nothing would ever be the same again.
ANNOUNCER: But caring for a seriously ill loved one doesn't have to mean constant chaos.
STACY KRAMER: I think the first step in caregiving is just taking a deep breath and taking a step back and knowing that you have some time to figure out what the best steps are, and to think about what needs to be done.
ANNOUNCER: In the midst of planning for long-term medical care, caregivers often forget that they too need some care.
STACY KRAMER: Their top priority often becomes their loved one and their loved one's needs and everything that their loved one is going to have to go through. But it's also so important for them to think about themselves and what they're going to need. They're going to need support. They're going to need rest. If you wear yourself out, you're no help to your loved one anymore.
ANNOUNCER: Luckily, Abby was able to lean on friends and family.
ABBY THOMAS: Knowing that at the end of the day I'd walk into the house and the message would be lit maybe 10 or 15 times: people wanting to know what we needed, how we were doing,.
ANNOUNCER: Having that kind of support allows caregivers to set aside time for themselves, to restore their energy and mental health.
STACY KRAMER: I always say to someone, if they can take half an hour to take a bubble bath, if that's something that helps them, that that's a great benefit. Beyond the half hour, that they will be much more refreshed and energized to take care of their loved one.
ANNOUNCER: And when things seem overwhelming or too hard to bear alone, one-on-one therapy sessions and support groups can make the tough times a little easier
STACY KRAMER: There are huge and very real demands to caregiving that sometimes can't be avoided, so the best thing to do is be able to have a place to discuss how you're feeling about that and how you're coping with that.
ANNOUNCER: Online, over-the-telephone and in-person support can be found at any time of the day.
ABBY THOMAS: There's tremendous, tremendous help and information to be had, and it's important, I think, to really reach out for it.