By Suzanne Mintz, National Family Caregivers Association

Everything negative has a positive side. Keep on looking until you find it.

- Betty S. Katz, Deerfield Beach, FL

A caregiver cannot take charge. The loved one's condition changes…You can merely co-exist, maintain some sense of self, and plan for better days.

- Martha Harnit, Eustis, FL

Perhaps the most important choice you have to make is how you are going to approach life from here on out. You can choose to drink the sour and acidic juice of lemons, or you can try to make lemonade out of them. You can view life as a glass that is half empty or one that is half full, and if you choose the latter view you will inevitably be a happier and healthier person. You will also be a more peaceful and loving caregiver, and more capable of proactive action on behalf of yourself and the person you care about and for.

That's because attitude impacts action. Our inner thoughts propel our outward movement. If you put on the mask of self-pity, then you'll shoot a hole in every idea or suggestion that well-meaning people offer. If you wallow in the waters of negativity, you just may drown. I know. I wallowed for a very long time and I paid the price in multiple ways.

Just fake it! Act as if…then it makes it easier to be cheerful. Soon, you will actually feel positive. It's a decision, not a feeling.

- Nancy James, Odessa, TX

I'm not suggesting that you be a Pollyanna. That doesn't make any sense either. Complete denial of your changed situation has as many negative side effects as wearing a hair shirt. What I am suggesting is that you recognize that you do have choices. There may be more difficult choices now that you are a family caregiver and have a loved one dependent on you in ways you never imagined. It is also true that some of life's options that were once open may now be closed to you and your family, but life still offers options and choices, and recognizing that will help you have a life that is rich and good and full, albeit in different ways than it was before. So much depends on our attitude.

A Family Caregiver Speaks Up

The above is an excerpt from Suzanne Mintz' latest book: A Family Caregiver Speaks Up: "It Doesn't Have to Be This Hard." She is a nationally recognized advocate and the award-winning President of the National Family Caregivers Association. Mintz has cared for her husband, Steven who has MS for over thirty years. Her book tells of her own inspiring story and expert advice for America's millions of caregivers to speak up for themselves, the loved ones in their care, and all family caregivers. Note the quote marks around the subtitle are integral to it.

Click here to learn more and purchase the book