Breaking the News: Telling a Loved One They Need Care

How do you talk to a relative about getting help?

Growing old is something that happens to us all. We all want the best for our loved ones but ensuring that they are well cared for as they get older can be a challenge, especially when you’re balancing work and home life with providing the level of care or help they need. Sometimes we need a little support.

Your loved one may be struggling to carry out some of the everyday tasks that we take for granted, they may be struggling with declining health, recovering from a stroke or may have just come out of hospital and need a little care that you and your family just aren’t able to handle on your own.

Although having the conversation with a parent or older relative can seem like a hard topic to broach, especially as many people are independent and don’t want to ask for help, it’s important to discuss in order to secure the best possible care to meet their changing needs with both dignity and respect. In fact this is something that we have often considered and we wanted to distil the advice we have been given and the advice we give to others when asked.

Every situation is unique and it is important to consider but the below tips can help as a starting point to initiate the conversation.

Do your research. Find what the options for care are to help determine what would best suit your relative and their needs. There are a number of levels of care available and an assessment for a live-in care or resident care provider can help you make the right choice. For many people, the option of being able to remain in their own home is preferable to having to leave their familiar surroundings and neighbourhood.

Have a family get together. Go out for lunch and make it a family occasion or have a chat over a cup of tea – whatever works best for your family. Be sensitive in your approach as it can be a difficult subject for everyone involved.

Decide as a family how to broach itThink about how your parent might feel and what your responses should be – come armed with solutions. If you know that your parent won’t want to leave their home and familiar environment then research care options that would suit them. If it is your parent you are worried about then it is good to have a chat with your siblings and see what they think. It is likely that everyone has been worrying about the same thing and said nothing because they didn’t want to say the wrong thing.

Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how you would feel if you were the one being told you needed care and structure the conversation with this in mind.

Start with difficulties they are having. Start by discussing the things they are finding difficult and then suggest that they may benefit from some assistance.

Clearly explain the different options. It is not necessarily a case of sending your loved one to live in a care home. It may be that live in care options are more suitable allowing for your loved one to maintain their home and their independence while still receiving the care they need.

Continue to talk. If your loved one hasn’t been willing to accept any help, persist with patient, respectful suggestions. Tell your parent honestly you’re worried and why. Most importantly, keep trying. Aging loved ones may eventually realize that you have their best interests at heart.

Enlist help. If you are really worried and you feel you are getting nowhere then enlist some help from someone else. An old friend may hold more sway in convincing a parent to think about quality of life and their safety or there are professional services that can help you.

These tips are just a starting point, it is important to pay attention to the needs of your loved one.

Before pushing too hard for them to accept help, try to understand that we all see ourselves as younger than we really are.

About the Author

This post was written by Richard Mckenzie who is a manager at Promedica24, provider of live in care services. To read more on what live in care is and how it may be a better alternative to a care home click here.

Easing the Process for Disabled Seniors

It was something so surreal that we could never imagine it when we were younger, but our parents, grandparents, and loved ones grow old. None of us remain strong forever and the day will come that you need help making it from point A to point B, but we’ll leave that alone for another day. When giving seniors care it is a touchy issue when it comes to aiding them. Like everyone, seniors want to remain thriving members of society but it is physically impossible for them to do so. Here are some ways that you can ease the transition from ability to disability with seniors.

Encouraging Independence

One of the essentials of elderly care is to remember each member of society wants to be healthy and functioning. When an elder realizes he or she is unable to continue caring for oneself like they were able to in the past it is devastating to their self-image. Upholding as many independent activities an elder can accomplish is crucial. Feeling helpless and unable to complete basic life activities without help is something no person wants to experience.  Encourage an elder’s independence. Challenge them to complete tasks which require independence. Go for a 3 15-minute walks per week (gentleman with a walker shown above), come down the stairs at least once per day, play a game of chess (online or offline), or any of these other activities.

Never Call Attention to Deficiencies

Humiliating a senior for a mistake or miscue should never happen. When a senior forgets where something was placed, bumps into a table, knocks something over, or has a restroom accident, do not call it to attention. Assure them that the problem will be taken care of. Then you can help to clean up the mess, reorganize, and assist in restoring the situation. Drawing attention to the senior for making a mistake only worsens the situation.

Home Care or a New Home?

When it comes to the point in which a decision must be made in regards to a senior living at home and receiving care or moving into a retirement center, the most favorable choice for the senior will be to stay in their own home. You’ll find that many major changes to a senior’s lifestyle are met with resistance and this shouldn’t be a surprise. When there are no feasible options besides moving into a senior care center or retirement community, you’re essentially telling the senior they need to evacuate their home and completely turn their life upside down. The “right” answer will depend on the needs of the aging senior and the level of care necessary for the senior to function in a healthy manner. Be sure to remind the senior that there are plenty of great things when it comes to retirement communities, including a community full of other great people and fun activities via life enrichment. If the senior makes the decision to move into a retirement community, be sure you do the research and help them decide which assisted living facility is the best.

The process of losing independence and the ability to care for oneself is never easy so do not expect it to be a seamless transition. It will be difficult, there will be miscommunication at times, and mistakes will be made. Just remember to encourage seniors when mistakes are made, don’t call them out, and challenge them to do things on their own. Put yourself in their shoes and treat them as if you’d like to be treated when you come to their age.

About the Author

Cheryl Swanson worked as the life enrichment coordinator of a retirement community for 17 years. Now she finds herself taking care of her mother, Lena, making sure she gets the most out of life in old age. A writer by heart Cheryl writes for, providing walkers for movement assistance.

Find Free Social Services to Help You Take Care of Your Loved One

In our more honest moments, we can admit: it is incredibly difficult—both financially and emotionally—to provide long-term care for an elderly family member.

Even those who have saved for the challenges of a family member’s old age find themselves facing rising medical costs, hidden fees, and dwindling savings.

And, worst of all, many people who find themselves responsible for an older family member experience “caregiver burnout,” and their motivation and patience wane as time goes on. And while such feelings are totally normal—expected, even—that feeling of burnout can lead to resentment and guilt.

Those who care for family members often believe that they are utilizing every opportunity to provide consistent and thoughtful care. Luckily, there are often extensive—and free!—untapped resources available.

Let’s take a look at some of the social services available in your area, and how to access them.

Step One: Log On and Find Your State’s Homepage

Here’s the good news: there a numerous social programs available to seniors, and to the people who provide care for seniors. Here’s the bad news: most of these programs are hidden in the dark corners of your state’s very old, very difficult to navigate homepage!

Texas is a perfect example. The state provides a wide range of programs for senior citizens and caregivers, but the Texas state homepage is… mystifying, to say the least.

But the search can be worth it. Texas’s Department of Aging and Disability Services has a list of services by county, and offers free or low-cost programs related to respite care, support groups, education on navigating the health care system, counseling for individual family members, and disability benefits. There may be waiting lists to utilize such programs, but many services are in fact under-utilized, and you may face no wait time whatsoever.

The assistance provided by each state is different, and some states provide more care than others. But the quest can be fruitful, as citizens of New York can attest.

To find your state’s website, go to a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing, and enter your state’s name followed by the word “homepage” (don’t include the quotes). The site you’re looking for should be in the first two or three results. Click on it and remember—the frustration of the search may be worth it!

Step Two: Find a Support Group—But Not Only for Emotional Help

Numerous studies have shown that caregivers who look to their communities for support are less likely to get sick themselves, and are more likely to experience “emotional resilience.” There is no question that the emotional backing that a support group offers can alleviate some of the more difficult aspects of caregiving.

So if you haven’t found a support group, you should. Weekly or bi-weekly attendance helps members explore (and hopefully dissolve) some of the more difficult emotions related to caregiving.

But while that alone is reason to attend meetings, it paints an incomplete picture of the value of support groups. We often forget that support groups are full of people who have an incredible amount of knowledge—and who have already navigated the difficulties of determining care for loved ones.

Wherever you live, the people who populate your local caregiver support group will have an understanding of the health care system, local services programs, and which local agencies can provide assistance.

So—get out there and make some new friends! Share your knowledge, and find out what others in the same situation are doing.

Step Three: Explore Services That Might Not Perfectly Fit Your Situation

It may sound odd, but services that are only somewhat related to your needs may furnish exactly the help you’re looking for.

Here’s an example: in many states, there are community mental health clinics that offer free therapy sessions to families who have a family member with a mental health disorder. For the most part, these counseling sessions are used to discuss schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, or bipolar disorder. However, in some cases, the counseling sessions can be used by families who have a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Even though the service is listed as a mental health resource, it can be utilized by families who are struggling with various aspects of elder care.

So how you do find such programs? Visit your county’s website and look for a tab that says “Programs and Services” (or something like it). Counties often offer services that are not available at the state level, and you need to investigate each.

A quick tip: a “spoonful of sugar” goes a long with the therapists who work at mental health clinics. Because the counselors and clinicians at these agencies are used to dealing with unhappy or difficult clients, an earnest and polite request from someone who is motivated to seek help can put you at the top of the list for services. For the most part, counselors want to work with motivated clients, and if you can show that you are a good candidate for help, they will be happy to work with you.

Another quick tip: Explore services in the counties surrounding the one you live in. While most counties are strict about division of services, the programs in some counties may be under-utilized, and they may accept out-of-county applicants. We know of one person who was seeking legal advice with an elderly father’s finances, and was able to attain the help of an out-of-county program.

Step Four: Hang in There!

Persistence in key. It can be difficult to arrange free services—but it can difficult to arrange paid services, as well! In every state and every county, there are programs that can help you help your loved ones. Keep at it, and see what you can find!

About the Author

Matthew Morris is a hospital social worker in Brooklyn, NY, and has helped many clients attain social services on a state and local level. He also runs The CNA Career Agency to help individuals start a nursing career in the healthcare industry.

Caring for an Elder: The Healing Process after a Stroke

My mom had a stroke two years ago. The healing process is still ongoing, and I remember even just a year ago she would suddenly burst into tears if she was having a particularly rough go of it that day. She would be so disappointed with herself for not being able to do things as she did before – from flying her own plane over the countryside to adventurously riding her horses by herself. There is still healing to be done, but she has made huge strides. As a first time caregiver, it can get a bit overwhelming to deal with, but understanding the healing process really helps.

Healing from a stroke is a slow process.

I remember my sister brought over her children to visit us not long after the stroke, and my mother got so overwhelmed with the kids and having her mind flooded with happy memories from her past, “healthy” self.

If you are caring for an elder recovering from a stroke, I am sure you have experienced some of what I have discussed. The main goals of a caretaker should be to maintain a positive attitude in the stroke victim with emotional support and an environment of mental and physical healing in addition to ensuring that a second stroke does not occur.

Emotional support

This part can be quite trying, but also very rewarding. I’ve never been closer to my mother, and I am so glad I’ve been able to care for her at my home even though it has been stressful. Remember to care for yourself too! It’s important to deal with the stress inherent in caregiving – ask for help from other family members and get plenty of alone time!

Mental healing

Stimulating and teaching the areas of the brain to function in ways they never have before isn’t as hard as it seems. There is a free app we love called Mind Games that helps with many things including memory and critical thinking. There are many brain fitness programs to help mentally sharpen any mind, whether the elder wants to lower his or her risk of dementia or heal after a stroke.

In addition to the app my mother uses, we play board games and card games. This is not just for fun, but also to exercise her mind. The more she uses it, the more quickly and efficiently she can think. The goal is to get to the same level as where she was mentally before the stroke, and I fully believe in her ability to get there.

Physical healing

Physically strengthening the body with exercise including aerobic and muscle training is very important in the healing process. My mother’s left side of her body was still very weak a year and a half ago, but now it is stronger and nearly completely healthy.

We go on 30 minutes worth of brisk walks daily in addition to the occasional yoga or Tai Chi classes we take. At first my mother was too weak for 30 minutes of walking, so we split into small chunks throughout the day. We also heard about how it is that exercising the right side of her body (that wasn’t weakened by the stroke) can actually help strengthen the weaker left side as well and have started giving that a try.

This seemed counterintuitive to us too, but a new study in Experimental Brain Research has found that strengthening one side of the body actually cross-educates to the other side too. The muscles on the side that isn’t getting exercised receives new connections to the brain, and participants found equivalent strength gains in both legs after 25 minute sessions three times a week.


Healing can mean taking medication to prevent blood clots from forming. My mother has a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation, which causes the blood to pool in the heart as the heart beats irregularly. Anticoagulants work really well for her, but they can be dangerous depending on which drug you get. Always be aware of the dangers of drug side effects. It’s better to know what the risks are than to pay with your health for any ignorance later. A good example is the Pradaxa lawsuits due to irreversible internal bleeding.

With emotional support and mental and physical healing, there is life after a stroke. With patience, positivity, and taking a day at a time, you and your loved one will get through the healing process.

About the Author

Madeline Ferdinand is a writer for Her main goal is to keep the old youthful and the youthful wise. She likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain (in moderation of course).

Caring for Seniors This Winter

The winter months bring all sorts of exciting prospects for family fun. Whether it’s baking cookies, decorating the house or just relaxing by the fire, colder days can bring us closer together and remind us of what’s most important.

On the flip side, winter also carries a new set of hazards that can pose problems for families if they’re not ready. Things like snow-ins and power failures can be a household burden if you haven’t taken some steps to deal with them ahead of time.

That means now, more than ever, it’s up to you to give your elderly relatives some added attention. As a caregiver, you’re responsible for more than just your own safety.

To help you get started, here’s a list of guidelines and ideas for making a smooth seasonal transition.

Get Prepared

If you haven’t put together a cold-weather emergency kit, now’s a good time to gather some supplies. To accommodate for seniors, pack in some extra blankets, some softer non-perishable foods and any medications they may need. On the off-chance your family is stranded for a few days, you’ll need to take special care of your seniors’ health and happiness.

Move Quickly

Winter storms can happen in a flash, so you can’t afford to respond slowly. Ask your elderly family members if they’re interested in a motorized scooter or chair. Just like giving up the car keys, it can be a touchy subject for seniors; try not to push. Help them recognize that our bodies all start to slow down at some point, and there’s no shame in getting some help.

See a Doctor

The immune system weakens as we age. And after years of fighting off infection and disease, it’s only fair that seniors get some extra assistance. Once flu season ramps up and the colder weather blows in, it’s that much more important to take your senior family members to the doctor’s office. A layman’s diagnosis might not be enough in certain cases.

Stay Limber

Once we get on in years, we should all adopt a newfound responsibility for our bodies. As the joints start to stiffen and the pulse begins to slow, stretching and exercise become key pieces of a senior’s day-to-day. See if you can get your hands on some weighted dumbbells or elastic bands, and encourage your senior family members to work out at least a few times a week.

Shop Right

Once the temperature drops, we want to stay inside as much as possible. So when you make the rarer trek to the mall or grocery store, make smart purchases for the seniors in your family. Stock up on warm clothing, blankets and high-fiber groceries that won’t go bad. Look for cereals and nuts you can keep in your cabinet for months at a time.

Practice fire safety

Every home needs a fire safety plan, regardless of how young or old the occupants may be. Being prepared to evacuate your home as quickly and safely as possible takes on added importance when you consider that seniors may be less mobile than other members of the household. Draw up an appropriate emergency evacuation plan, practice it regularly and be sure everyone follows basic fire safety guidelines.

Be Realistic

It’s a sad thought, but there comes a time when you may have to look at assisted living communities for your loved ones. Are you fully equipped to care for a senior this winter? If you can’t commit the time or resources, start looking around the area for well-regarded elder care facilities. It’s tough to let go, but it’s often for the best.

About the Author

By Elle Aldridge, a safety & security expert and editor for Home Security System.  Follow her on twitter @ElleEAldridge

Now What? Tips for First-Time Caregivers

Tips for First Time Caregivers

When my mother-in-law moved in with my husband and me after her stroke, I watched my stress levels skyrocket. I wanted to provide the best care possible, but I didn’t know where to begin. After doing a lot of research and talking to friends who had been in similar situations, I discovered that there are some really wonderful resources out there for first-time caregivers like me.

By taking advantage of the following tips, those of us who are new to caregiving can relax and focus on caring for our loved ones knowing that we are well-prepared.

The Basics

Accepting your new role as a caregiver can be tough, and there is no reason to pretend that it’s not. One of the best things you can do, for you and your loved one, is remember to take care of yourself, too. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and setting aside time to enjoy your favorite hobbies and the company of your friends can all help you manage stress. And when your stress levels are kept in check, you will be more clearheaded, calm, and energetic, all of which translate to a better, more sustainable ability to provide great care. It is sometimes difficult to not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Try to remember that by taking care of your needs, you are indirectly taking care of your loved one’s needs, too.


Caregiving can lead to all sorts of emotions, questions, and concerns. Having a robust community that can offer support, camaraderie, and advice is crucial, especially for new caregivers who are most likely to need a little reassurance.

You may find that your closest friends do not understand what you are going through. This can be frustrating and lead you to feel alienated or alone. Fortunately, there are a variety of online support groups for caregivers that provide a place to share your worries and aggravations. At the end of a long day, I find comfort in connecting with others on discussion forums who can relate to my experiences. Sharing stories remains one of my favorite ways to make new friends and learn new information.


It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to keep track of when you are caring for a loved one. Medications, medical visits, and daily regimens can quickly add up to a pile of lists that are all too easy to lose. With the help of apps for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, you can ditch the pen and paper. Microsoft Health Vault allows caretakers to keep medical records all in one place, which makes it easy to track down contact information for a loved one’s physicians, or to forward relevant medical history to new doctors. Other programs help keep track of medications, dosing schedules, and allow you to check whether or not medications—including over-the-counter drugs—interact with each other.


When it comes to caregiving, knowledge is power. And power provides peace of mind. While you’re sure to learn about your loved one’s medical conditions, medications, and other treatments, there are additional issues that you’re almost guaranteed to run across. You may find yourself being asked to make decisions about your loved one’s finances and end-of-life wishes, among other things. Investing time early on in learning as much as you can will prevent a situation in which you’re faced with the panic of navigating circumstances you know nothing about. At the least, try to familiarize yourself with first aid and CPR, other assisted living options and their associated costs in the event your loved one eventually requires a different level of care, and the current state of your loved ones financial and legal affairs.

Be Realistic

As you settle into your role as caregiver, try to keep your expectations realistic. You can provide excellent, compassionate care, but you cannot plan to meet each and every one of your loved one’s needs one-hundred percent of the time. Remember that there will be good days and bad days, and more importantly, that that’s okay. Ellen Besso’s book, The Caregiver in Midlife, gives advice from a balanced perspective that is supportive without any sugarcoating.

About the Author

Shanon Raynard believes prevention and preparedness are one of the most important elements of health and wellness. She partners with to raise awareness about life support certification resources that follow the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association.

Caregiving for a Proud Elder Patient Who Needs Your Help

Caregiving for a Proud Elder

As people age, the simplest daily tasks we’re used to doing can become increasingly difficult to complete, but what can be even more difficult is entering a stage when the realization that the days of an independent lifestyle may be coming to an end, especially after living a full and independent life where he or she learned to be self-reliant.  This realization can lead to denial of the situation, and even more so when others begin to take notice.  Moving from a life like that can be incredibly difficult and it’s completely understandable.  People often don’t want to admit they need assistance, even when it’s clear they do.

If you find yourself in a similar situation and notice a parent or loved one is in need of assistance, but has shunned attempts at help, it can be an incredibly challenging hurdle to overcome the denial of the circumstance.  It may be possible if you’ve noticed a shift in behavior and attitude, especially if it appears to be dramatic, that the person be developing a neurological condition.  It doesn’t necessarily mean its dementia or even Alzheimer’s, but any change over a period, brief or extended, should be addressed by a healthcare professional.  A geriatric screening may be beneficial.

Of course, even getting a geriatric screening can be another challenge to overcome with someone who is stubborn, prideful, and unabashedly independent.  However, if you are in a caregiving position, there are several things to consider that will make caring for a strong-willed individual.


It may be a cliché to call patience a virtue, but in this case, having patience with a stubborn individual or someone who has dementia is critical.  A lack of patience will only lead to grief and misery for both parties and it will create a highly stressful situation.  There will be a considerable amount of stress.  In caregiving, it’s unavoidable.  Managing the stress and having patience is a major first step, but managing stress is a learning process.  It’s about knowing when to take a step back and to breathe.

Plus, if you’re caring for a loved one, it can be emotionally and physically taxing.  You might ask yourself what you’re getting out of it. Emotions can certainly run high and probably will.  If it does become too taxing and stressful, don’t be afraid to find someone else to provide care.  A great way to reduce stress on both you and the person you are caring for is to stay active.  Keeping mentally and physically active is critical.  When they aren’t active, it can be detrimental to their health and mood and if they are already in a state of declining health it can worsen their condition.


You don’t want to be the only one doing the communicating.  Listen to what the person has to say and remember that not all communication is verbal.  Look for nonverbal cues in body language and behavior.  If the person wants to be alone, it’s ok to let them be alone for a while.  Instead of demanding that they need your or a caregiver’s help, ask them and engage them in conversation.  If the person is a parent, it can be especially difficult because there can often be a sense of betrayal, which goes both ways.  In any case, you want to be direct and straightforward when you communicated and respond.  You want to avoid letting the person’s hostility to manifest itself in you, because if it does, it can be difficult to recover from and can easily break your patience.

It’s also important not to expect an immediate positive change—or a change at all—in the individual during you care of them.  While you’re a support structure in someone’s life, a pillar, they may lack the cognitive ability to realize that.

About the Author

Christian Wilson currently works in the home care industry. He writes about issues facing the elderly and spends a lot of his work day answering questions regarding home care. When he’s not at work he enjoys traveling with his family and meeting new people.

The Benefits of Home Care after Hospitalization or Rehabilitation

The time after a patient is discharged from a hospitalization or rehabilitation stay is a fragile time – especially for older patients. Every recovery is different, but for many, the management of daily responsibilities can present an overwhelming challenge – and in some cases may not be feasible at all. Even procedures that might seem straightforward can result in lengthy, cumbersome recuperation.

This is also a crucial time; how well patients are taken care of after hospitalization has a huge impact on how successful their recovery is in the long term. As such, it’s important to understand your options during this time, do the due diligence, and plan in advance for care after the hospital stay.

The Limitations of Insurance-Covered Home Health Care

When patients are discharged from the hospital or from rehab, they are provided with in-home health care – which is usually covered by Medicare or private insurance. Home health includes select services of nurses, occupational therapists, or physical therapists for a given period of time (usually the first part of the healing period). While this help is crucial for recovery, the services are limited, and there’s a common misconception about how much help is offered, the quality of care, and for how long care is provided.

For example, the provided home health aides will not typically take care of things like grocery shopping, meal preparation, escorts to and from medical appointments, grooming, dressing, and so on. This can come as an unpleasant surprise to patients and their families who may have been depending on these services to be managed.

Planning for Supplemental Home Care

When deciding what kind of help will be needed for the period of post hospital recovery, talk with the doctor to get a sense of what the recovery process will be like. Determine from the insurer what home care benefits will be included. Getting this information will help you decide the best care plan for you or your loved one.

One option that many patients and their families will elect to do is to supplement the home health with a specialized senior home care provider. Using this type of supplemental home care ensures a smooth transition from hospital to home, and it gives the peace of mind that there will not be any surprising gaps in provided care. A good home care provider can create a personalized care plan for whatever length of time is requested and can deliver a number of services that may not be covered by insurance, including:

  • Meal preparation
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Personal care and hygiene
  • Companionship

Because the time after the hospital or rehabilitation is such a vulnerable time for seniors, families often find that temporary home care is an excellent way to alleviate stress, provide some much needed assistance, and ensure the speediest recuperation possible. As individuals on the road to recovery know, a little extra help can go a long way.

About the Author

Charlie Nadler is a community education writer for Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services. CMSS is the most extensive senior services network on Chicago’s north side, providing services such as senior home care, a senior living community, and more.

Elder Care Issues: How to Reduce Caregiver Anxiety Symptoms

Caregiving is, by its very nature, the giving of yourself for someone else. Caregivers need to respond to the every need of the person they care for, and they often find themselves essentially giving up their own life for the life of someone else – all while dealing with the natural stresses and anxieties of caring for someone with special needs.
That kind of sacrifice comes with a price. Caregivers are often prone to serious stress and anxiety that can be debilitating, and may take away from your ability to deal with the needs of the person under your care. For those that are suffering from caregiver anxiety, consider these tools and tips for improving your own mental health.

Caregiver Anxiety Tips

  • Be “Selfish – Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that your mental health affects your ability to be a good caregiver. Caregivers with anxiety and stress won’t be 100% at all times. So if the stress is starting to get to you, it is in your best interests – and the best interests of the person you care for – to take a moment and find a way to relax. It’s not selfish to want yourself to be at your best, even if it takes away from your caregiving duties for a short time.
  • Join Support Groups – So much of caregiving involves taking care of those with dementia, or fading health, or Alzheimer’s, or some other disorder. Witnessing that breakdown can be emotionally difficult. Support groups give you an opportunity to surround yourself with others experiencing the same thing. It makes you feel like you’re not alone and supported. Developing that type of community can be powerful.
  • Exercise – One of the first things that caregivers neglect when they start caring for others is attention to their own physical health. Yet the mind and body are powerfully connected. If you’re consistently inactive you’ll end up with excess energy that will only fuel your anxiety further. If, on the other hand, you exercise regularly, you’ll burn away not only excess energy, but also cortisol (a hormone released when you’re stressed).
  • Go Out With Friends – As hard as caregiving is, chances are you have some free time (as little as it may be). It’s important you do not let yourself fall into the trap of using that time to simply mope about your stress. Force yourself to stay active. Go out and spend time with your friends, and allow yourself the opportunity to create social support for yourself, laugh, and create memories outside of your caregiving.
  • Therapy – Many people look at therapy the same way they do pharmaceutical medicines, and this is simply unfair. Therapy can be extremely effective at helping you cope with your stress and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has received ample research into anxiety reduction tips and strategies, and seeing a therapist is 100% side effect free. If you can afford it, therapy can be an extremely helpful option to consider.

Developing Strategies to Cope With Anxiety

You can also find your own coping strategies as well, provided they are emotionally healthy. Skipping stones at a park or walking your dog may be a worthwhile way of coping, and if it helps you improve your mental health you should always find time to do it, even if it takes away from your caregiving duties for a short time.
The above methods of decreasing stress and anxiety are valuable, but they’re just suggestions. The most important thing you can do for your caregiver anxiety, however, is recognize that you own your mental health matters. No matter how much you need to care for someone else or how important that other person is, they – and you – need to always make sure that you’re taking at least a bit of time to ensure you are able to relax, otherwise neither of you will get the attention that you deserve from the caregiving relationship.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera is an anxiety specialist that has written countless tips for managing stress and anxiety. He has a website dedicated to anxiety disorders and treatments at