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Strategies for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout


Caregiving for an elderly loved one can be very rewarding, even when it is hard work and causes stress.  No one can be fully prepared for all of the challenges of care giving, though. The task and responsibilities involved can be demanding.  Caregiving presents physical and mental and, usually, financial challenges to the caregiver.  Caregiving often involves sacrifices, restrictions, and competing responsibilities.


The many conflicts and responsibilities that come with caring for an older person can isolate a caregiver, compromise relationships, threaten job opportunities, lead to mounting anger, frustration, guilt, anxiety, depression, stress, a sense of helplessness and exhaustion that is sometimes called caregiver burnout.






























Caregivers can do only so much as individuals, and the help they may receive from family members and friends may not be enough. The Merck Manual of Health & Aging offers the following strategies for avoiding caregiver burnout:


  • Learn about the cause, symptoms, and course of the person’s condition. Anticipate changes.

  • Let the older person make his own decisions and solve problems if he is able. Set limits to the amount of assistance offered if necessary.

  • Avoid taking an older person’s anger, frustration, or difficult behaviors personally. These behaviors may be symptoms of a disorder such as dementia.

  • Avoid arguments.

  • Delegate responsibilities and ask other family members and friends to help whenever possible.

  • Ask for help from trustworthy family member, friends, or neighbors. Be explicit but reasonable about expectations. Avoid criticism as long as the person helping is responsible.

  • Discuss feelings and experiences with others, either informally or through a support group.

  • Eat and exercise regularly, and schedule regular time for relaxing, enjoyable activities.

  • Obtain information about the older per-son’s resources; avoid depleting personal finances.

  • Contact organizations that can provide information and referrals for caregivers.

  • Consider day care or respite care be-fore the burden of isolation or of care-giving grows too great.

  • Remember that assisted living facilities and nursing homes may be the best option.


A Blessing for Caregivers


May you see with tender eyes

The wounds of those before you.

May you hear with well-tuned ears

The unspoken needs of those whose voices are muted.

May you hold with gentle hands

The bodies and the spirits of those you care for.


May the beauty of soul,

The strength of spirit,

The wholeness of being

Lead you, inspire you

And let you know your own

Beauty of soul,

Strength of spirit,

Wholeness of being.


May you know that,

As you care for others,

God cares for you, sees you,

Holds you tenderly.




This blessing comes from the book, Voices from the Journey, authored by Sr. Juliana Casey, IHM.

Learn more about the book at

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