How Caregivers Can Save Time and Reduce Stress

Here's What the Experts Have to Say

caregiver support program
You can turn caregiving from a burden to an opportunity.. Getty Images

No one escapes the role of a caregiver. At some point in life, you give care to a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, or another relative. Any person who served another in this capacity will verify it a worthwhile position. It’s something that family and friends take on willingly because of love for the other person and because it’s our obligation. It demands a caregiver’s attention, time, and even sacrifices, but the gifts returned are significant.

After the experience, many walk away with added virtues like compassion, patience, and willingness. But if you provide extreme care for extended periods, the physical and mental toll is substantial. Although most people don’t connect health problems to caregiving, many admit they feel frustrated, exhausted, angry and even sad. Here is what industry experts have to say to caregivers about saving time and reducing stress.

Caregiving demands time. Consequently, it leaves a caregiver with little time for a spouse, children, and friends. In a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, more than 50% report that the responsibilities cause them to sacrifice vacations, interests or other activities.

To offer help and advice for the challenging times, asked over 100 experts and selected the top answers for family caregivers to use:

“What's one thing a caregiver can do to save time and reduce stress in their life?”

Use respite care

Have a friend or professional caregiver help out, even if it doesn't feel needed at the moment. It helps the caregiver build a comfort level with this, and a relationship with someone who they can trust to help out moving forward. Alex Chamberlain

Don't be afraid to delegate. While you may be responsible for the care, it doesn't mean that you have to do everything.

Hiring support can be of tremendous value. These could be people in your family - teens can be a wonderful, inexpensive workforce! Senior Care Auditors can visit the senior and assess them and their living conditions and report back to you. Rhonda Harper

Use the online cloud

Put the essential information about your loved one online, in the cloud to access anytime. Include documents like the health care surrogate, Power of Attorney, and Living will. Add the medications that the patient takes, and the medical team’s key contacts. Use programs like iCloud, Google Drive, etc. Shannon Martin

Use an online appointment and medication record keeping system that texts you reminders. I use Caryn Isaacs

By using technology to improve communication between care recipients and caregivers, we can focus limited caregiving resources on those that need it at that time. Communication, both in its traditional sense and in transmitting information to caregivers like fall detection, health vitals, and activity levels would be helpful.

David Inns

Have a backup plan

Anticipate future challenges and create a contingency plan. For example, if you think you are going to be responsible for helping a loved one liquidate property, prepare a durable power of attorney and other documents required by your state. The guardianship option is a last resort and a more expensive lengthy process. Nikki Buckelew

Mitigate behavioral issues

Learn to manage behavioral issues related to dementia. Time spent arguing, negotiating and taking comments or actions personal contributes to unnecessary stress and time. Lori Stevic-Rust

Find support

The National Family Caregiver Support Program offers support for caregivers through the local Area Agencies on Aging. Family members are eligible to receive up to 30 days of respite care annually while they take a break. Evan Farr

Pick partners to help you, such as neighbors, friends, extended family, church volunteers, senior center volunteers. Provide a list of possible tasks they could help with, such as prepare a meal, groceries run, Pharmacy run, laundry, a ride to the doctor, set up professional appointments, etc. Individuals can manage the activities through online tools like Carebridge or Lots of Helping Hands. Rhonda Caudell

The multiple daily tasks overload caregivers. Make the workload lighter by keeping a list ready for the time when someone says "how can I help?" Give them a job from your list so you have time to do other things. Everyone has talents so make use of any offers for help by being ready to ask! We all need a little help from time to time and giving away some of our jobs can relieve some stress! Kathy Birkett

Take care of self

As both a professional in aging services AND a caregiver, I recommend that caregivers start their day with exercise and meditation. Build 45 minutes into every day for yourself and it will center you and give you both the attitude and the stamina you need to succeed as a caregiver. Anthony Cirillo

Slow Down! Stay mindful and breath deeply. I've helped care for many family members with Alzheimer's disease. Whenever I rushed a visit or hurried a task, I regretted it. The person in your care will pick up on your feelings and react to it, so be mindful of your thoughts and actions. Also, when I rushed, I'd often have to start over. Nancy Wurtzel

Get organized

Set up routines, schedules, systems, and shortcuts. Use an organizational tool to streamline the daily "to dos." It takes effort to set these up, tailoring them to work best for your needs and situation, but it's worth the effort as these can serve as an anchor or constant when things go awry -- as they often do in the unpredictable world of caregiving. Michelle Seitzer

About Carol Marak

Carol Marak is a senior and family caregiver advocate. She is the editor for and writes for many online publications offering information on current aging trends and help. She helped publish America has a Major Misconception on Aging, a report to help consumers plan for long-term care.

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