People often become caregivers out of necessity, without any training or advanced notice, and finding answers to questions or resources to help can be tough. We asked our professional caregivers from across the country what advice they would offer those caring for a loved one, and here are the top seven responses we received.

7 Expert Tips for Family Caregivers 600

  1. “Remember what’s important to your loved one. That way, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not going to make a bad decision if you do what’s best for them. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, try to make your involvement with them work with your routine. It’s best to pull them into their care. Find out how they can get involved to feel more useful around the house and get involved with family after they’ve gone through so much hardship.” – Kathleen, SLP from St. Louis, MO
  2. “After working in hospice for 18 years, I thought I knew it all. Then two years ago, my mom was diagnosed with an illness and I realized I didn’t know anything. So you must be patient, take time to love on your family member and spend quality time with them. My advice is to rely on caregivers who are coming in. We, as caregivers, do what’s best for your loved one; and not just them, but you as well. A lot of times, nurses and aides are there to support the patient – they give a lot to them – but also to the family members – the spouses, children, grandchildren. So use your social workers and chaplains for the additional support.” – Jan, Social Worker from Evansville, IN
  3. “Know that you’re not alone. There are different respite care services and people that can help out. It’s OK to talk about what you’re feeling, and let professional help you find resources that you can work with.” - Debra, Registered Nurse from Denver, CO
  4. “Seek help – you can’t do it alone. From personal experience, my best friend thought he could take care of me when I was sick with cancer. But he got to the point where he couldn’t, and sometimes people will have pride and think they can extend. You need help. You need a network of people. As a caregiver, I personalize each experience I have with each patient and family. I provide education because I lived through it. When a person is suffering, all they need is someone to listen to them sometimes. Just be kind. Even when people are on mechanical ventilation, they can still listen and extending compassion to them every day, no matter what is a help.” – Mark, Registered Respiratory Therapist from Houston, TX
  5. “It can be overwhelming situation all around. You just have to pace yourself. You do need to give yourself a break if you can find somebody to relieve you for a few minutes to take some time to yourself. Let somebody else take on that responsibility for a few minutes so you can sit down and pull your thoughts together.” - Teresa, LPN from Greensboro, NC
  6. “Ask questions. Sometimes it’s just about asking the questions to the appropriate person. For example, social workers can answer anyone’s questions about support or resources with the state. There’s always help out there.” – Daniel, Registered Nurse Case Manager from San Antonio, TX
  7. Some of them are very apprehensive, and they’re very fearful and say “I want to take care of my mom.” Other people think they cannot take care of my mom the way I would, but you have to let them know, hey, I can do what you’ve been doing, I’m going to consider him as my family, I can treat him as my family. You just have to make them feel good and you just to assure them that everything is going to be OK. - Raddy, Physical Therapist from Indianapolis, IN

If you’re making healthcare decisions for a loved one, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can walk you through care options in your area and answer questions you may have.

What advice would you offer other caregivers? Share with us in the comments section below.