Caregiver support

Blackberries

you're not alone

Are you a working mom who helps an elderly parent? Are you a husband caring for your sick spouse at home? Do you regularly lend a hand to a neighbor with chores?

If you're a caregiver, you take time from your life to provide social, financial, emotional, and physical support to someone who needs help. Helping can feel good, but it's not always easy.

Helping isn't always easy

Woman in a wheelchair and her caregiverCaring for someone regularly has its ups and downs. Some days, you might feel happy you're able to help. If you're caring for your mother or father, there's the satisfaction of knowing you are, in some way, returning the care they once gave you.

But the stress of taking care of someone else can change the way you feel and relate to him or her. Sometimes, you may:

  • worry about or doubt the quality of care you're providing
  • feel resentment toward the person you're caring for
  • feel guilt that you aren't doing enough
  • feel a sense of loss because the person you care for has changed so much

Your feelings toward your family and friends may also change. You may feel:

  • alone with a huge responsibility
  • angry at not having enough time for yourself and your family
  • frustrated because this isn't what you had planned for yourself at this time in your life
  • an urge to strike out verbally or physically
  • confused about where to turn for help
  • afraid that you can't keep up this kind of care much longer
  • worried about the financial burden of caring for a loved one who's ill

Ways to prevent burnout

Taking care of someone is never easy, but it's important to understand that you're not alone. There are many people who can help, including family and friends, health care professionals, and persons working with community services.

When you take care of yourself, you are, in turn, helping the person who depends on you.

Get some helpful tips drawn from the experiences of many caregivers.

Reviewed by: Michael Russin, MD, February 2016
Additional Kaiser Permanente reviewers

© 2016 Kaiser Permanente

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