5 Tips for Dealing with Caregiver Burden


Educate yourself

When it comes to taking care of a loved one, knowledge truly is power.
When it comes to taking care of a loved one, knowledge truly is power.
iStockPhoto.com/Pamela Moore

It's important to learn as much as you can about your loved one's illness or condition. This will allow you to provide better care and feel more confident in the care you provide. It will also alleviate some of that fear of the unknown that all of us experience, especially in circumstances as difficult as providing care to a loved one.

If you help transport your loved one to and from doctors' appointments, take the opportunity to ask doctors any questions you have about the condition. Medical care providers want their patients to benefit from informed decisions and planning in the home, and you need their information in order to provide that. Many times, as with dementia, the care recipient may not always be able to think or communicate effectively with doctors or specialists. It is important to act as an advocate and ask any questions the care recipient himself may have asked were he able to do so.

Learning about the stages of dementia or any other progressive condition will also let you know what's still to come. This will keep you from having unattainable expectations or false hopes. But it will also allow you to establish common terms with the condition itself, allowing you to recognize your victories -- no matter how small they are -- when they occur. Try to consider your self-education as a caregiver an ongoing pursuit.

Knowing what can -- and can't -- be changed about the situation will help you avoid burnout.