Caregiver Reality Check Introduction

Updated:Aug 5,2016

Two women leaning towards each other smiling As a caregiver, you have to be realistic about what can and can't be controlled. You can't control the fact that your loved one has a chronic or progressive disease or the impact of that disease. But you CAN control how you respond to the situation.

The first step is taking ownership of your caregiver role and admitting that it might be a long-term job. This acknowledgement allows you to plan and seek help. The National Family Caregivers Association has reported that this simple shift in attitude can have a profound impact on your situation. By accepting the job and putting a name on it, you will be less inclined to set yourself up for stress and emotions that prevent you from seeking help.

The next step is to understand the scope of long-term caregiving. If you don't pace yourself, you're going to be depleted before the job is done. Think of caregiving as a marathon, not a sprint. Marathoners get through a race by pacing themselves and getting sustenance and water along the way. A lot of people throw themselves into a "caregiving frenzy" that quickly leads to emotional and physical burnout. Understand that long-term caregiving can have long-term effects. Set your pace for a long race and accept the reality that you will need help along the way. The earlier you understand pacing and asking for help, the better you and your loved one will do.

Be Realistic. Think Positive. Your attitude can be the biggest barrier to taking care of yourself and doing the best job for your loved one. Your mind will believe what you tell it. Tell it that you're a caregiver, that you need to stay healthy, that you have rights and that you will do the best you can but you'll have to find help for certain things.

Caregivers, you're not alone. Join our Support Network.

Elderly woman sitting outside talking with her female caregiver
Caregiver Quotes

Read some of the comments we received when we asked how people's lives had been affected by caregiving. What you're feeling is normal and you're not alone.

Family of four sitting down next to each other
Reframe Your Thoughts

Cognitive therapy helps you identify unhelpful thought patterns and substitute more adaptive thoughts.

This content was last reviewed on 12/18/2014.

Reality Check

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