What to Do When You’ve Reached Your Breaking Point as a Caregiver
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We’ve been there and we’re here to help.

Here are some suggestions from fellow caregivers

I am at my breaking point right now. And the thing that is helping me…is solitude. I find a few minutes throughout my day that is quiet. No phone, tv, people just peace and quiet. Reflect on the positive reasons you are a caregiver.Kristal S.

Share your feelings with organization, GP or support group that may be able to help you. Use this page as a means of “sounding off.” – Rosie H.

I also find that if I just sit down and make a list of things I am happy about or things I have accomplished…. A vocation whether it is a wife, mother, or caretaker of a sick, injured, or elderly person is infinitely more rewarding and meaningful than the worlds version of a happy life. – Jamie C. 

“Nothing ever lasts for very long.” I have found validation in those words through many situations that have come my way. It does seem to keep things in perspective for me. – Patti G.

I took those moments when mom was asleep, to just go outside and grab some gulps of fresh air, some rays of sunshine or even a little bit of rain, to remind me that I was ALIVE. – Sugarpie Hunnybunch

First PRAY and realize it is at that point that you need a break. I keep Starbucks Frappuccinos in the frig for days like this. I pray sing & enjoy a frappuccino! Find what works for you & do it. No one can love you or take care of you in a moment like this better than you! – Eletha A.

I breathe deeply and believe this too shall pass. And it does. Takes a toll though. – Mary M.

Caregiving is not forever. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Just remember you are someone’s angel and think of where they would be without you. Keep up the good fight! – Mark S.

Every situation is so unique. Getting away would be ideal–completely removing yourself from the situation for as long as possible. Possibly admitting that your personal health is at risk and you’ve done all you can humanly do and your loved one needs a more skilled placement. – Dulcie N.

Breathe. It’s just about the only answer when your family wont help. – Diana K.

Find a place that is all yours. A bathroom, a spot in the yard. Fall to yours knees and scream. And while you are down there thank God for how far you have come and ask for the strength to get you through this. And ask someone for help. Hugs and prayers to all who feel this way. My journey is over for the time being. And don’t feel guilty for feeling relieved for it being over. – Tina D. 

A handful of Oreos and milk helps too. – Gail F. 

It’s OK to admit you’re unhappy or sad and maybe even lonely. Say out loud how you feel, maybe not to the person you care for, but just say it when you are alone. Admission is very releasing. If you can’t verbalize what you feel, start a journal. Writing has helped me greatly. – Luci B. 

 Maybe just turning to the person closest to you and seriously letting them know how you feel and that you really don’t know what might happen if something doesn’t change. – Vicki H. 

Create a sacred space in your own home where you can be alone for even 5 minutes. Or ask someone to be with you in person or phone for 5-10 minutes, and simply ask them to listen with 110% attention without responding. – Jay K. 

I love M & M”s so I buy a bag and my favorite magazine and just enjoy myself for a little while. Always helps. I also have literally screamed into a pillow to let out my frustrations (making sure my loved one can’t hear). Sometimes the hardest thing is not to feel guilty if you enjoy yourself. I have to tell myself it is an ok thing. – Dianne M.

Even if you can’t physically get away, try to carve out as many “mini-breaks” as you can during a day. – Jeannette L.

Hospice can help get relief for the caregiver. – Antoinette H.

Step back…regroup…and remember why you do what you do. And the lives you’ve made better and the hearts you’ve touched with your love and compassion. – Debra J.

Make sure you eat healthy. It seems crazy but good food does help. – Jana B.

5 more minutes, then another 5 more, count to 60 and then again, say a prayer, hold your breathe for a minute or so, say another prayer, count to 60 again and then force yourself to get up, go for a walk, garden, meditate, whatever until you reach that stillness inside of you which no person, no event or circumstance can touch, remind yourself of who you are, why you are doing what it is you are doing and then go and do that thing. – Virginia B. 

Meditation. Peace and quiet. Those things have saved my life. Also, some Prozac has been very helpful. My facebook friends have also helped a great deal. I have found that your breaking point will stretch. – Kerry D.

Talk to someone you trust. Have a good hard cry. Cry until you get it all out. – Bobbi C.

Go lay down on the closest piece of grass you find and look at the sky, take a deep breath, cry, and then get up and get at it again… – Rachel S.

My aunt takes me out once a week to an hour comedy show and the laughter is a great release. – Danielle H.

I keep a prayer journal. Quite often I rant. But usually I start writing down all that I am thankful for. – Maribeth C.

It’s hard but worth it in the end. – Garcia

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.

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42 Comments

  1. I really enjoy reading all the comments, it is comforting to know I am not alone is this journey. You truly do not know what dementia/Alzheimer disease is until you’ve lived it.

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  2. Sometimes nothing makes me feel better other than time alone.

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  3. I used to go to the grocery store!

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  4. You have to walk away, even for just an hour, sit calmly rationalise and realise the needs of another outway the needs of the self and start over 🙂 Take silice in the small positives and believe ‘it will get better’. But mstly what keeps me going is the knowledge that this is the last moments of a person I hold dear and I should cherish every moment for one day I will never have the chance.

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  5. This is a hard one to handle, most of my family would rather ignore the issue.

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  6. This is really a good article, knowing I am not alone through this process of being a caregiver.

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    • You aren’t alone❤

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    • I was a caregiver for 30 plus years.I pushed myself until I had a mental breakdown. Finally I realized that I was no longer able to do it.

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  7. My Mother passed from complications of Alzheimer’s November 2016. I was there for three tough years. My Dad is still going at 91 years old, mobility challenged from childhood polio. Hard of hearing, but he has his mind. I am retired and his live in caregiver. I do all the driving and errands nowadays. I like driving, it is my quiet space. We live out in the country on the lake shore in southern Minnesota. Our noise is deer, wild turkeys, all sorts of water birds and the occasional bald eagles. Yes, we do look forward to visitors as long as they respect our space and pace! Dad and I get into some good discussions over the news or PBS programs. Now is very different than it was with Mom. Study what conditions you are caring for, it helps when you know others have walked a similar experience. You can bounce ideas off each other. You may be tearing your hair out, knowing others have been there helps your perspective. Still take breaks, be good to yourself, kick that rock or can down the path, have a good scream or cry, take a deep breath and wade back into the situation a little calmer. Check with your doctor for blood pressure meds if you need them. Or some anxiety meds if needed. Practice some self love. Don’t become an empty vessel.

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    • I like that” respect our pace and space “

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  8. Drive your car to a very big parking lot. Put the air on….. park at a spot with no one around you put the radio up and sing along……
    Then when you feel like screaming do it. Cry even if you want.
    I sat many times in parking lots and just screamed and cried.
    Then posted in my caregiving sites.

    Caregivers are human too!
    That helped me.
    Blessings to all caregivers.

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  9. Screamed at the top of my lungs in my car.

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  10. Take a break.
    – The whole idea is that when you have reached your breaking point it’s because you can’t take a break.

    Caretaking isn’t forever.
    – Why are parents of special needs children not mentioned? Our caretaking is forever.

    Or the great ones like have a quiet cup of tea, take a walk with a friend etc. Nope. If any of this is your advice, you don’t get it.

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    • You are so right.

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    • Solidarity ladies.

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    • I always get a bit disappointed by these articles. Your comments made me smile

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  11. Go somewhere in the home where you have privacy & breathe, cry or vent to someone on the phone. Just don’t let your loved one know how much they upset you. It either gives them a way to upset you if they have mean streaks or make them feel bad if they don’t intentionally upset you.

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    • Today I had a good cry in my basement. I didn’t want my mom (who I’ve been caring for since I was 12) to see how much suffering I am going through.

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    • Patricia Wadeaybe you don’t understand a caregiver. It’s taking care of someone we love (without conditions) no threats, no games, honest and pure love with compassion. Vent? Go for a drive, turn a radio on but never vent to others that only know a piece of the struggle. That’s violates a trust within the family never be to brme trustworthy again! Lastly, asj for a hand stop letting pride in the way!

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    • Donna D-Goodrich She understands just fine. Your comments are rude and make for very poor advice.

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  12. To my first resource ; Jesus! ❤‍♀️

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  13. Thank you for sharing. I know how you feel. I’ve been told “call if you need anything”. When I did need something they didn’t know if they could come over or not. Or want to complain about the dogs needing to go potty. Or just complain because that’s what they do. They don’t “get it” at all. I have tried to explain to them what it’s like. Describe everything I do and have done. The sad part is it’s their father, my husband, who I am caring for.

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  14. Love this list! Bookmarked for later.

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  15. i get rat arsed out of this world…alas. like now.

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  16. I’ve been meditating a lot and it really does help me keep my cool the next time it all starts to get to me.

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  17. I am so sad for your situation. My aunt had Lewy Body Dementia, beginning about ten years ago. (She lived for seven more years.) I suggest telling people that “LBD combines symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, usually with hallucinations as well.” Most people find the thought of combining Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s comprehensible–and frightening enough to end their questions. Apparently, Robin Williams was diagnosed with LBD before committing suicide. I wish you strength.

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  18. Every now and then I tap into the Caregiver Space. I am at a point of sheer burn out. I work full time, care for my 94 yr Mother with Lewy Body Dementia (this has been going on for 5 years plus), care for my home, yard and the like. I have no time for myself to do things that I enjoy. I try, but when I do my mom starts into her behaviors. I am tired and exhausted. My mom is in Hospice, they say they help the caregiver…. that is a bunch of bull.

    I finally was given the opportunity to have a volunteer to come for a few hours so I could get away, for me. But…. they will not help assist with ensuring my mom eats even though I would have the meal ready, they will not help her to the bathroom. What they will do is…. sit there. – I was told get paid help. I was told you can go to the store for a couple of hours — get groceries. I wanted to do something for me. Go take pictures, go quilting class, a class to learn my new machine, … that pretty remains in the same place.. where I put it when I bought it. I look at it and smile at it — someday we will be friends.

    It takes an hour or more to get someplace, so no time for a class. Hospice does NOTHING for me. They do not understand Lewy Bodies. I have had 9 nurses over the coarse of time – 1.5 years. I teach them about Lewy Bodies. I give them website to read, to learn about it. It is not cancer. It is the longest good bye. I get told they do not have time to learn about mom’s diagnosis. They do not understand the medicine the interactions of the medications. They tell me, Mom is lucky to have me… you are her nurse. Yes… I am a nurse.

    I am the caregiver and the nurse, I am the daughter and the mother,. I am invisible as I do not exist. They look at me with a deer in the headlight look. I am not allowed emotions. I am a person. I have no family that will come over, in fact they won’t come over. My sister has died April, my son in law was killed – in August 2015 and my little Teazo (my Chihuahua) was killed – July 2015 all in a year.

    I am told to hire someone so I can go out… that takes money I do not have to have fun (to pay for the class and a caregiver to come to house — is way beyond my finances. I pay for 40 hours of caregiving while I am at work. I start my day at 400 am — go to work and come home and work again… maybe my day ends at 1000 unless Mom thinks she need to roam all night. Most days I get less hours of sleep than the average person.

    No guys… I cannot put Mom in a facility.. there is no money. We are in the middle of the financial conundrum..too much for help not enough for help.

    We are each a person – the person with illness and the person who cares for the person.. we are not invisible…

    Well, I need to get back to work. Thanks for letting me share.

    One in the rabbit hole and still falling.

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    • Was wondering where Susan is now. My sister & I have God & each other. No one else does hands on care unless we pay & no funds for that. We take one day at a time. I miss my home & husband. My sister lives with my senior parents. Her husband left yrs. Ago.
      I’ve been here most of the 5 yes. My sister much longer.
      She had a breakdown,I can’t leave her. God is letting this drag on for some reason.
      We love our mom so much but we are just done. We won’t stop however,we cant. We know God is in control.

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  19. Boy… do I identify with just everything touched on in this article. I am at burnout and exhaustion, caregiving IS a challenge and then some.

    I have had people say to me… she is your mom and she won’t be around forever, you are doing the right thing.
    I stop and take a few deep breath’s and move on…
    I PRAY – A LOT!!! and have others praying.
    I have my journal, but all too often I am too tired to write in it. Once I get started I am at it for a long period of time and then I am angry, upset, or just disappointed that I did not get things done that I needed so desperately to do.
    My go to candy… Reese’s Miniature Peanut Butter Cups… love those things!
    I don’t really carve out time to meditate because I fall asleep… every time.
    There are G_d moments… or as I call them G_d Winks… and I am so grateful for each and every one of them.
    My mantra…Attitude is an Inside Job… and it is because it encompases everything I bring to it, everything I think and feel, everything I pray to G_d about and how he answers me…He is what gets me through.

    There but by the grace of G_d go I!

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  20. Challenging doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done. We made it through without killing each other. I can say humor is way we did it. And wine, lots of wine.

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  21. I love this! “Look for God Moments!” Wonderful! I pray every day…all day…my mantra…”God please give me compassion, strength and understanding.” He does! It’s not always they way WE want it to be…but I know that God’s Grace will bring me through ANYTHING and He has a better plan for my future! Thank you for your beautiful article!

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  22. I have found as a caregiver it can be very challenging. Consider the Patient, you and the sickness. Each is a leg of a triangle. The Triangle is the strongest shape in the world. To remove a leg would weaken if not replaced with another leg. Replace the sickness with “Faith”. So now you have a powerful base to build your tower of power! The “Sickness” is like a Hurricane, spinning and going in no specific direction. The safest place during a hurricane is in the center or the “Eye of the hurricane”. The rules of engagement are not to enter, touch or challenge that Hurricane wall. Stay in the center. Do all that is necessary as the doctor ordered and provides. As all hurricanes go, they run out of energy, the sun comes out and sunny skies prevail. Does it work you might ask? My wife and I have been doing this technique since she was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer back in September 2009! And yes, we pull eachother off of that insidious wall from time to time.
    When either of you get mad at eachother use another language other than your own native tongue!! Trust me it works and you start laughing and the stressful tension subsides. Like “Mikey” and the cereal commercial:”Try it you just might like it!!”
    Regards to All Caregivers!!
    David

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    • Just exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.

      Reply

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