Every time we’re a passenger on a commercial aircraft, we hear the safety message that if we’re traveling with young children and the oxygen masks deploy, we must put our masks on first and then tend to the kids. This same directive applies when you care for a senior parent.

If you’ve assumed the role of a family caregiver, you know the importance, and difficulty, of maintaining that healthy balance of taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally so you can have the strength and wisdom to care for an aging parent.

So, how do you care for a senior parent without compromising your care? Here are some suggestions shared by experienced caregivers who have learned how to do just that.

1. Say “no” when you need to.

It’s hard to say “no” when someone who depends on you asks you for something. Feelings of guilt can come creeping in when what appears to be a reasonable request is just too much for us to handle at the time.

For example, if you’re caring for your mom or dad and they live with you, you might need to say