Five Caregiving Tips to Help Save Your Sanity!

By Cindy Laverty © 2011

Someone asked me the other day to list five (only five) things that EVERY caregiver should know...five things that would really help them figure things out. It was a big challenge for me because there are hundreds of things someone needs to know. But I wracked my brain for a few days and decided that these were the TOP FIVE!

1. Now don't freak out! You don't have to be a CAREGIVER!
I know that statement makes you really uncomfortable, doesn't it? The truth is that you don't have to be a caregiver. There is no law that says you have to and there is no punishment (except for your guilty conscience) if you decide not to. This statement should be freeing for you, because it means you have a choice and choice means that we are then guided by our ATTITUDE. When you change your attitude from one of obligation and servitude, then you are free from all of the baggage that accompanies the "I have to" attitude. You get to decide what the caregiving journey looks like for you and your loved one. Once we accept that "have to" is not part of the scenario, then we bring a more positive energy to the whole process. No one likes to be told, "You have to do this or you have to do that." The same is true with caregiving. What you do have to do is DECIDE that you will assume the role, but also that you will be very clear about what you can do; what you can't do; what you will do and what you won't do. It will take some getting used to, but if you change your attitude and realize that you indeed have a choice, the journey will be better for you and the person for whom you are caring.

2. Caregiving needs to be set up like a BUSINESS and you are the CEO of the business.
Think about this for a minute. There are legal, financial, medical and physical components that accompany caregiving and sometimes there are even employees who need managing, especially if you hire outside caregivers to assist you. There is also the day-to-day scheduling combined with the emotional feelings. All these moving parts need to be managed. Set up caregiving like you would a business from the very beginning and your life will be infinitely easier. Most caregivers have not done this step and this is when the financial issues become overwhelming. You really need to consider putting systems and procedures in place that everyone can easily follow. Having a roadmap for the business of caregiving is extremely beneficial.

3. You cannot do caregiving ALONE!
You absolutely must have a support team in place and this support team involves your family, your friends, and anyone who can help you get this job done. Many caregivers are afraid to ask for help. For some reason they think they should be able to do this by themselves. They quickly learn, however, that it takes more than one person to care for an aging loved one.

4. Stop trying to FIX what is wrong and embrace the role of ADVOCATE!

This one tip will change the way you view your caregiving responsibilities. You can't fix the aging process and that's what you are faced with. You can, however, become an advocate and you can never underestimate the importance of advocating on behalf of someone who cannot advocate on his/her own behalf. When you are trying to fix everything you set yourself up for disappointment. Be realistic about what you can do and stop trying to fix the impossible. Instead, become a strong advocate.

5. You Matter! Learn to embrace and practice SELF CARE each and every day.
Caregiving takes a physical, emotional and mental toll on our lives and you must learn to be clear about your personal needs and put yourself at the top of the pyramid. You've read all the articles about caregiver burnout. Perhaps you've heeded them, but most caregivers think it will never happen to them. When it does, the rug is really pulled out from under you. Caregiving is a beautiful gift to another person, but you are not meant to lose your life while doing it. Become proactive today!


  1. One core value you must have in being a care giver, or starting a health care related business is patience. Chances are you will be dealing with the elders who are bothered by a lot of aspects. Their health might also affect the way they treat you. But that is not the case all the time. At times, if you give grant them your concern and understanding, they will also give you the best appreciation they can offer. True enough, the health care industry is a business built on true passion and care!

    1. Thank you, Lonnie. We need patience in all relationships, but more so in health care. Unfortunately, I have days when my patience runs out, and I ask God to grant me grace.

  2. “Caregiving is a beautiful gift to another person, but you are not meant to lose your life while doing it.” – I agree! One important step of becoming an excellent caregiver is to take care of yourself first. Don’t exhaust yourself because it can compromise your capacity to provide care.

  3. Clint, I learned the hard way how important it is to take care of oneself while in the role of caretaker for someone else. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  4. I think that first tip is definitely the most important. Being a caregiver entails a lot of effort, time, and patience. It’s not exactly a job suited to just anybody. Only go into this sort of job if you genuinely like or enjoy giving your time to be there for other people, or if you have the specific skill set that it requires. I also like the tip about remembering to take care of oneself. A worker or caregiver is always most effective when they are at 100%.