In your own words: 106 crucial tips from fellow caregivers
106 tips for family caregivers to stay sane

Recently, we asked you to share one piece of advice, or one tip, that you’ve learned through caregiving and how you avoid caregiver burnout. You had some amazing words of wisdom to share. Interestingly enough, many of you learned some very similar lessons — here’s what we found and what you said:

Breathe for Patience

1. “Patience. Much patience. And laughter is a close second!” – Tammy Lewis

2. “Breathe patience and understanding” – Karen Sulski

3. “Deep breaths and plenty of patience” – Cari Bergery

4. “Breathe… Take a moment in the midst of the chaos and just breathe…” – Annette Weber Andrews

5. “Be patient and love your patient as you love yourself.” – Cherel Verana Bustamante

6. “Always take a moment and breathe.” – Cheryl Montague

7. “Patience, understanding and heaps and heaps of love.” – Rhondda Rosenow

8. “Be patient and pray for strength.” – Denise Davis

9. “Hold on! The good outweighs the bad!” – Helen Tisdale

10. “We all lose patience at times, forgive yourself. Show your love, a kiss on the cheek, holding hands, and that precious smile they give back even though they don’t know us anymore means so much.” – Donna Bills

Make This a Non-Negotiable Top Priority

11. “Schedule self-care as a non-negotiable top priority.” – Michelle Poppleton Chumsae

12. “Take care of the one in the mirror.” – Paula StpierreChalker

13. “Take time to rest. You can’t help others if you don’t realize your limits.” – Bobby Arnott

14. “ALWAYS make time for yourself. It’s not selfish of you to do so. Separate yourself from the situation and do something for YOU and YOU ONLY. That was one of my biggest challenges in the beginning of my husband’s TBI. I would feel guilt leaving his side, but you have to train yourself to think otherwise. It keeps you sane in the insane moments when you’re able to walk away for a second.” – Kristina Zamora

15. “Take some time for yourself everyday.” – Amie Lynn Green

16. “Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.” – Diane Croy

17. “Please take time to take care of yourself, this is so important physically and mentally.” – Wyoma English

18. “Make time for yourself every day. Even if it’s just a short walk, shower, or eating lunch outside. Taking a little ME time is important to recharge your batteries so you can continue caring for the person you are caring for.” – Heather McBeth

19. “Take time for yourself. It is so important. I exercise and the strength it gives me to lift my dads wheelchair and other things. But it also helps my depression and anxiety.” – Jill Reincke

20. “Put self-care first or you will end up a martyr needing self care and those who didn’t show up to support you in caring for another won’t be there to care for you.” – Pat McDaniel

21. “Make time for yourself even if its five minutes here or there. If you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of someone else? I know I had a breakdown in the midst of taking care of my mom and bro and turned into the one needing care for a couple of days.” – Annie Newman Crawley

22. “Maintain your own health…” – Darlene Tabangcura

23. “Be kind to yourself. If you don’t care for yourself, you’ll have nothing to give…” – Susan Grace

24. “Look after yourself first, even if it means screaming loudly for help!” – Jaci Wiley

25. “Take time for yourself. Do a hobby that you love, pamper yourself, visit with friends and loved ones, and see the doctor if you need to.” – Jessica Hope

26. “My heart, mind and soul was on my husband, praying with him, caring for him and being advocate. But I knew in order for me to be well I had eat well, sleep well and find a mentor for me.” – Jacki Smallwood

27. “Remember to bend those knees when lifting. Know your limit when lifting. I wish I had listened I thought I would be 23 for ever and I would never loose my strength but I’m 49 now and have had many surgeries for injuries caused by not being careful & knowing when to ask for help. So do yourself a favor and know your limits.” – Sylvie Perez

28. “When given time off, don’t overtire yourself.” – Kathelene Almanza

29. “Take care of you it will get you through…” – Donna Kukura

30. “Making time for yourself is a MUST otherwise you will lose yourself. Recognizing that there will be some good and bad days and being ok with that and remembering your only one person. Put yourself at the top of the list. If you don’t take care if yourself, you won’t be any good to anyone else…” – Renee Ferguson

31. “Make time for yourself… Like the stewardess says ‘put the oxygen on yourself first’ so you can help others. I was physically sick many times being so exhausted and did not know where to turn…” – Cindy A. Hardison Rodriguez

32. “Make sure you take a few minutes for you, the caregiver is as important as the person being cared for.” – Lisa Fletcher Richer

Live in the Moment

33. “Never get angry. Live each day as the last. Laugh. Smile. Cry.” – Kayla Huebner

34. “It’s not ONE day at a time, start with breakfast and work your way toward lunch… just a little at a time.” – Stacey Gordon

35. “Cherish those special little moments.” – Karen and Pavel Blaho

36. “Let things go for the day, when you go to bed. It helps start the next day a bit easier.” – Leota Endicott

37. “Life is like raindrops, you don’t know which one is going to get you wet—Stay warm and comforted, the sun will come again.” – Judy Ann Kent

38. “It’s all about the moments, cherish the good, distract the bad… Love through all.” – Patty McCoog McMahon

39. “Take one moment at a time, moods shift quickly with the ill person. Very difficult for only one caregiver to deal with.” – Pam Roche

40. “Take it one day at a time and breathe!” – Beverly Axel Smith

41. “Remember nothing last forever and take one day at a time.” – Concepcion Ocegueda- Thompson

Keep It Practical

42. “Mouth breathing while diaper changing.” – Jennifer Oertwig

43. “Humor goes a long way. So does kindness and love.” – Tammy Martin

44. “Patience and a sense of humor… Loving heart…” – Lora Lee Ziegler

45. “Pray a lot and think positively!” – Patricia McHugh Santmyer

46. “Sleep when you can.” – Tori Webb Woods

47. “Be kind.” – Susan Wiffill

48. “Get an elder care attorney involved soon. Alzheimer’s is a devastating and costly disease.” – Christy Dave Hirschman

49. “Get a good social worker in your family’s corner.” – Rosanna Maher

50. “Don’t be too proud to accept help when needed.” – Marjorie Deuell Fox

51. “Let people help you. It is a gift to them to be able to do something and it will help both of you. Don’t be a hero or a martyr. Prioritize and delegate when people ask what they can do.” – Jane A. Tilleman

52. “Ask for help when needed. My hubby, and my dad require 24 hour nursing care… They forget how big a load I got to carry not including my own.” – Celina Markishtum

53. “Make as many connections as possible that can help the person you are caring for along the way, whether it be financially, medical or social. There are many resources available—just ask.” – Mary Frances Kovack Studzinski

54. “Listen to specialists. There are wonderful services in the public, charity AND private sector who can help. None of them work with each other so you need to prepare your own special network of all three.” – Lucy Woodhouse Haughey

Vent, Connect and Let It Go

55. “It’s ok to vent. Let it out then let it go.” – Trish Ashby

56. “Find the real people who have really walked your path… My closest friends are people I met on the internet with kids about the same age and diagnoses. We have a closed group on Facebook where we can say anything. And we have also made a point to meet in real life. I would have gone insane without these people. Truly.” – Amber Stilwell Fergason

57. “Don’t feel guilty for feeling angry. It’s natural. Deal with it as constructively as you can.” – Ali Costine

58. “Do not allow yourself to become isolated!” – Leslie Ann Shields

59. “Create relationships with those who share similar struggles.” – Kara Davioni

60. “Never have any expectations that family will help and support. I did and it was a costly mistake in the early years. And try not to get too isolated as I did, it’s devastating.” – Megan Northcott

61. “Let go of the need for control.” – Liz Gary Maurice

62. “Let go, let go and let go!” – Diane Godlesky 63. “Try to let go of the mistakes.” – Cindy Morris

Remember Your Loved One

64. “They mimic your emotions always smile stay calm and love wholeheartedly.” – Cassandra Friend

65. “Remember we (survivors) don’t like being dependent either. Sometimes we may say thing we don’t mean. There is a lot of frustration on our part because we can’t do things we used to do.” – Rick Ernest

66. “When dealing with dementia, a hard lesson I have had to learn is not to correct my mom. Who cares if she says it’s Tuesday when it is Saturday? The most important thing for me is to stay healthy-my gym time keeps me strong inside and out and better able to handle all challenges.” – Melanie Malone Weaver

67. “My disabled adult son always says to me ‘I would do the same for you, Mom’ and I know he would if he could. Keeps things in perspective for me.” – Malia Lovell

68. “Instead of trying to bring your loved one to your side of the river, go to theirs. Try and truly understand what standing in their shoes is like. Join THEIR journey.” – Diane Marie Jurgensen

69. “Never forget the person they used to be. They have not CHOSEN to be dependent. Remember them at their best.” – Beth Bodette Rymer

70. “Don’t take their aggression personally. They may not know they are being aggressive towards you, it could be a part their disease ‘talking’ or they could be just having a bad day. Walk away when and if you need too so things can calm down and remember to breathe. It’s ok to ask for help also.” – Maria Medina

71. “Remember they are doing the best they can even though it doesn’t appear that way sometimes.” – Christy Dave Hirschman

72. “They may not remember what you said but will remember how you made them feel.” – Amanda Konrad

73. “Treat them how you want to be treated.” – Celeste Morrison

74. “Do unto others…” – Adrienne Gruberg

75. “Try to see them as they were and deal with them as they are, you will be angry, frustrated, hurt and overwhelmed but when the end comes you will know you did all you could do and feel no remorse, only sadness for the loss.” – Suzie Horak Marcin 76. “Try to remember that your loved one would love to not have to be cared for.” – Joyce McMahon

77. “Remember the love you share… Let it be your guiding light.” – Judith Bateson

78. “Touch, for a patient, can be so healing. Rub their forehead, ask if they want their hair combed, or hold their hand. Knowing someone truly cares is so very important for their peace of mind.” – Sheila-Lynne Beal Wurzer

79. “Leave no kind words unsaid. Remember the Golden Rule. You might be the caregiver today and someone else may be your caregiver tomorrow. Be the one you would want for yourself. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it. Give yourselves the much-needed breaks and take some guilt and duty free trips, when you can. When it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, shrug it off and let love fill your heart, because your sacrifice, your care and your service has made a difference.” – Karen and Pavel Blaho

80. “The person you are taking care of appreciates everything you are doing more than you will ever know.” – Belinda Hall

81. “Treat those you love and care for the way they treated you your whole life. With love and respect.” – Tracy Johnson Pegram

82. “Try to be kind at all times. They need us to help them. Not everyone can do what we do. Hang in there. It’s just a season.” – Deb Krause

83. “ALWAYS have compassion!” – Amber Gryder

Speak Up and Stand Your Ground

84. “Take help when it’s offered. If no one offers, ask.” – Devin Ball

85. “Be firm with your decisions. I take a lot of questions and nitpicking from my husband’s family. At first it gave me such bad anxiety and I was so unsure of myself. I had to learn to stand my ground.” – Ambre Irby

86. “Don’t be afraid to ask others for help!” – Sue Bastien

87. “If you have to, LEARN to ask for help from others.” – Adrienne Gruberg

88. “Don’t be stubborn and try to do it all, when someone offers help accept it if possible and ask when you need it. Burn out is no joke…” – Mandy Ladd-Lueshen

89. “Choose your battles wisely. Only fight the ones that will make a difference in the end!” – Lisa Ward Arnold

90. “Pick your battles. Only fight the ones you can win.”

Keep It in Perspective

91. “Understand and come to terms with your limitations as a caregiver, and don’t be too hard on yourself because you’re not able to fix everything.” – Adrienne Campbell

92. “You ARE good enough! Don’t ever doubt that you are doing enough. Sometimes you’re taken for granted, sometimes you are the one to take the anger and the hurt… Remember it is because you are the one they love and trust the most.” – Vicky Klass Cramer

93. “Be as kind and forgiving of yourself as you are of your caree.” – Leanne Irwin

94. “Remember that you are only human so don’t be too hard on yourself.” – Norma Cole

95. “The days are long but the years are short!” – Anne Webster

96. “Recognize that you are doing your best, day in and day out. Some days will be better, some not – but always give yourself the credit you deserve. This is a labor of love and a difficult job all rolled into one.” – Susan Keller Suresh

97. “Take breaths: No, nothing is normal and nothing goes as planned—it is okay to cry every so often.” – Tabatha Dean

98. “Don’t forget that you are the most important part of the process.” – Bruce Solomon

99. “One day at a time. If it doesn’t get done today, life will go on.” – Mary Frances Kovack Studzinski

100. “Just keep everything simple!” – Cathy Martinez-Blackwell

101. “Remember that you are human! What you have to give say or do is precious.” – Lorinda Hilliard

102. “Remember that it could be you or your loved one be a positive light!” – Sharon DaGreat Elicke

103. “You can help with love but remember you can’t fix everything and it important to make time for yourself and don’t blame yourself… We are not perfect people no matter how hard we try to be!” – Alan Thym

104. “Be patient and think, this could be me!” – Kristinna Stephens

105. “Don’t take words said or things done to you personally… It is so hard to do sometimes… Today has been one of those days with my mother…” – Gail Williams

106. “Imagine you were in their shoes!” – Scott Troxell

Your Turn

We want to know: did you agree with the advice? What stood out for you? What advice would you offer a new caregiver? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

Related Articles

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


  1. Realize ‘me time’ can be as simple as breathing and enjoying a cup of coffee. Each day is different. Some days, there is more time for you, some days, you get it through a binge of one package of mini donuts while he’s off his rocker. Keep up with your doctor appointments for you. Keep track of your own health, and have back up meals for when you crash and are not available. It happens, we are human. Loads of hugs.

  2. Great advice , thanks

  3. I replied on the article

  4. Well beyond burned out.

  5. All of these are wonderful. I keep a log of my mother’s behavior almost daily. It helps when I need to discuss things with her doctor. Also shows any patterns.

  6. A lot of grating platitudes….

  7. Debbie, hang in there! It is so typical for your mom to think that she is taking care of you, I have that situation too. Now, just because your mother wants to stay in her home does NOT mean that you should live apart from husband! And the last thing she would want if she were in her right mind would be a break up of you and your husband. What does it mean that your mother-in-law “lived with him”? Where were you?!! Anyway, you probably won’t see this post anyway, so to anyone who reads this, stand up, and stand up strong to your siblings, speak the truth to them, shame them, whatever you have to do to get some help.

  8. Good advice. Most hit right to the point of where I am at caring for my mother. My husband and I live apart because my mother wants to stay in her home. He had to care for his mom until his mom’s death in May. She lived with him. My mother seems to think he left me and that she is taking care of me. Although I have tried repeatedly to explain the situation. My husband has four sisters. None of them would take his mom. I have two sisters and they are worthless when it comes to helping me. They “have their own lives to live”. It is as though the life I once had with my husband and kids and grandkids doesn’t matter.

    • So typical as l found as caregiver… relatives back off from helping…can’t deal with it, are self-centered, selfish & hypocritical. I truly found out their “true colors”… so many want to give advice but not give real help.

  9. This is great and helpful. I’ve only been labeling myself a caregiver for 9 months so I feel like I’m still learning how to cope and deal with it. Many of these points help and validate what I’m experiencing. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I really like what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve included you guys
    to blogroll.

  11. Always step into THEIR world, never try to convince them of the reality as YOU see it.

  12. I’ve shared this on my facebook page (Dawn After Darkness) because in addition to being excellent points and advice for caregivers, many carry through the grieving process as well (and any caregiver knows, the grieving begins during caregiving). Thank you for all you do on the Caregivers Space.


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.