12 Steps to Care for the Caregiver. What Do You Do?

Caregiver guide: 12 tips to cope with chronic grief, stress, & improve self-care. Includes spirituality, grief, laughter, education, support, goal-setting & more.

12 Steps to Care for the Caregiver. What Do You Do?
Photo by Jared Rice / Unsplash

This was posted on a caregiving forum and I thought that I would re post here.

Care giving may begin suddenly or gradually and can last from days to years.

It could take place in your own home. Or it could start as a long distance caregiving. It can continue long after your loved one has entered a care facility.

No matter the situation, caregivers experience continual grief. Watching a loved one deteriorate, or while wishing that the situation were different.

Chronic sadness is a heavy burden to bear. It is compounded as caregivers try to run the entire household. Many are responsible for complex care needs of their loved one. Some are trying to balance the demands of a career.

If life were as simple as a balance scale… the chronic grief would be the weights on one side, with resiliency factors on the other side. By focusing on resiliency, one’s thoughts can change from I am sad or angry because… to I can cope because…. Here are 12 resiliency factors that help me:

  1. Self-Care. Telling someone to “take care of yourself” can be said in such a way as to make it another failed task. Recognize the absence of self-care as a symptom of increased stress. It may also be decreased coping. Identify your stressors. Look for ways to diminish them, and then allow some time for pampering yourself.
  2. Spirituality. All faiths have stories of struggles and selflessness. Become familiar with those stories and how they can give you strength in your life and encourage you. .
  3. Grief. Caregivers experience many losses. Acknowledge them. Actively grieve them and don’t deny their existence. Without grieving, the sense of loss remains like a tender boil that needs to be lanced, in order to heal.
  4. Laughter. Even in caring for another, funny things happen. Don’t be afraid to laugh at your own foibles, your own klutziness as you learn new skills. Rent a comedic movie if you can find nothing else to laugh at. Laughter helps the body make good brain chemicals called endorphins.
  5. Education. Learn all you can about the disease, its treatment and its prognosis. Learn about care giving, too. You might want to read about differences between healing and curing.
  6. Social Support. Humans are social animals. The support we get from our friends helps keep us going.
  7. Goal-Setting. In a crisis, perhaps goals are set for the day or the week. In caring for a long-term chronic illness, setting goals for a year or two may be more appropriate.
  8. Hope. Hoping to be done with care giving is a common. Hope, means that one is hoping for an end to the relationship in which a person needs care. That could mean death, which by logical progression means hoping for grief. A more positive perspective is to hope for… the resources, energy, skills and ability to continue.
  9. Life Celebration. Have a birthday party. Celebrate all the Hallmark-card days. Find cause to make some days special, even if it’s just getting to eat a meal on a “You Are Special Today” plate.
  10. Diversions. Have some things that can get your mind off care giving, even briefly. These may be hobbies or a job you love. Or maybe visit with friend with whom you can share a cup of tea or a short vacation. Whatever works. Remember, outside relationships need
  11. Mental Health Support. If you find yourself feeling sad and grieving, you may be feeling stuck in grief. A support group can help you feel as if you are not alone. Find a mental-health counselor. They are offering more therapy online than ever before. And, if needed and prescribed, take anti-depressants to be in the best possible frame of mind. If you are depressed, you are less able to help the one in your care.
  12. Journal Keeping. Writing about your experiences at the end of a day can help you put life in perspective. Especially when you later go back to look at what you wrote. A gratitude journal or a blessings journal helps. You see that there have been good things during the course of what you might immediately remember as a bad day.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Join our caregiver support group

I invite you to answer this question yourself:

What in your life makes it possible to continue as a caregiver?


Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is such a beautiful list.

I would like to add that it is important to…

  • Eat right
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Some sort of exercise every day, even if it is just stretching
  • Positive self talk are also important things to include in your daily care giving life.

I hope that if you are on this page, you will SHARE what you do with others.