A caregiver tenderly presses her head to her patient's head.

Caring For Aging Parents


As we age, so do our loved ones. And sometimes, we have to become a caregiver for our loved ones when they can no longer take care of themselves. 

Being a caregiver is a challenging role and we’re here to provide you with valuable information and support. This guide will help you navigate the responsibilities of being a caregiver, provide strategies for identifying and healing from caregiver burn out, and provide you with resources that will help ensure the well-being of you and the person you are caring for.  

Getting Started as a Caregiver 

When you first find yourself in a caregiver role, it’s essential to take some initial steps to set yourself up for success: 

1. Educate Yourself 

Start by learning about the condition or illness your loved one is struggling with. Understanding their needs, treatment options, and potential challenges will help you provide the best care possible and prepare for future changes or difficulties. Be sure to consult with accurate and legitimate medical platforms and resources.  

2. Build Your Care Team and Support System 

No one can do all this alone. Establishing a care/support team can help protect you from caregiver burn out and help ease the burden of caregiving. Reach out to family members, friends, and professionals who can offer assistance and support.  

It might help to make a list of people you can rely on and categorize them based on their roles and strength (Are they a good listener? Are they available to help take your loved ones to doctor appointments? Can they provide respite and relief when you are feeling stressed?). Recognize your own limits and don’t feel guilty or ashamed when others are genuinely offering their help.  

3. Establish a Routine 

Maintaining a consistent routine can help both you and your loved one feel more secure and organized. By making sure to include regular, dedicated time for yourself to take a break from your caregiving duties. Also be sure to pencil in travel time for various errands, making sure to account for any necessary accommodations and logistics. Be prepared for changes in schedule and routines and pencil in flexibility in your schedule as well. 

4. Make a Care Plan 

Make a comprehensive care plan that outlines your loved one’s medical needs, daily/weekly routines, and any necessary accommodations. You can also delegate roles and responsibilities to other members of your care team. This helps keep all this important information organized and will serve as a roadmap for your caregiving journey.  

5. Stay Organized 

Keep important documents, medical information, and contacts organized and easily accessible in one location. Many caregivers opt to use a binder or a folder that they keep with them at all times just in case. This will save you time and stress when you need to refer to anything in them. 

6. Take Care of Yourself 

Caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding. Remember to prioritize caring for yourself. Make time for activities you enjoy, get enough rest, eat healthily, and maintain your social life. It is easier said than done, but taking care of yourself will help you better care for your loved one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if this becomes more challenging.  

7. Celebrate Small Victories 

Caregiving can be challenging, but it’s important to recognize and celebrate the small victories and moments along the way. Even if your loved one is suffering from something that will not improve with time and treatment, cherishing the small moments that bring light and joy into your day will help fight off burn out and stress. 

Caregiver Burnout 

As a caregiver, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of caregiver burnout. Caregiver burnout commonly occurs when the demands of caregiving become overwhelming, leading to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It is not a sign of weakness or inadequacy; it is your body telling you that you are close to reaching your limits. Even if you were doing well before, the cumulative effects of juggling many roles and responsibilities can take a toll on your well-being.  

Here are some commons signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout to watch out for: 


  • Fatigue, exhaustion 
  • Frequent illnesses or health problems 
  • Anger / irritability 
  • Withdrawal from social activities and relationships 
  • Anxiety, feeling overwhelmed 
  • Depression and mood changes 
  • Loss of interest and difficulty concentrating 
  • Changes in eating habits, such as overeating or loss of appetite 
  • Insomnia, trouble sleeping 
  • Compassion fatigue, feeling emotionally drained or apathetic/low empathy 
  • Lapses in self-care, neglecting your own well-being 
  • Increased forgetfulness 

If you notice signs of caregiver burnout, it’s important to take action to address your needs and well-being. Here are some solutions that can help: 

1. Take a Break 

Caregivers need regular breaks to recharge and take care of themselves. Seeking care through your support system, whether personal connections or professional help, allows temporary care for the loved one while the caregiver engages in self-care activities or simply takes time off.  

2. Accept Limitations 

Recognize that you can’t do everything alone. It’s essential to acknowledge and accept your limitations as a caregiver. Reach out for help when needed and consider expanding your support network to delegate certain tasks and ease your burden and responsibilities. 

3. Set Boundaries 

Establish clear boundaries between your caregiving responsibilities and your personal life. These can involve setting limits on the time you dedicate to caregiving roles or even limits on which caregiving responsibilities you are willing to do. Setting boundaries can give you the space to meet your own needs, making you better equipped to provide care.

4. Communicate 

Open & honest communication is essential. Share your feelings, concerns, and challenges with your loved one, other family members, and your care team. Expressing your needs and seeking support will alleviate stress and ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. It can also invite others to share resources or volunteer help and support that you hadn’t considered yet.

5. Address Your Own Well-Being 

Caregivers often neglect their own physical and mental health when caring for their loved ones. Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, engage in regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, and seek professional help if you’re experiencing any other problems.  

6. Seek Caregiver Support & Resources 

Joining support groups or seeking counseling specifically tailored for caregivers can be very beneficial. Connecting with others who understand your experiences provides a sense of community. They can also offer practical suggestions and support for your unique situation.  

Helpful Resources 

Feel free to explore this list of helpful resources for caregivers: 

  • AgingCare: Resource for connecting families with in-home care providers, searching for assisted-living facilities, and providing caregiver support through blogs, articles, and their forum. 


Being a caregiver is a challenging role, but by prioritizing your well-being and recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout, you can provide better care for your loved one. As a caregiver you play a vital role, and by taking care of yourself, you can provide the compassionate care your loved one needs. You’re not alone, and there are resources available to support you on this journey. 

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