Tips for managing caregiver stress and health

As abilities fade for an aging loved one, a caregiver’s responsibilities and stress increase, often at the risk of the caregiver’s health. 


Serving as a healthcare advocate for aging parents or managing daily tasks for an elderly loved one, a caregiver essentially manages two lives.


Eventually, a caregiver may feel as if their own health comes second. Finding support and continually learning new coping mechanisms are essential to health and wellbeing. Here are some ideas for each caregiver’s toolbox.


Caring for a loved one who is managing a chronic condition or recovering from an injury, surgery or hospitalization can be overwhelming. At CenterWell Home Health, we understand the challenges you face. Our team of clinicians work closely with the patient, family caregiver, and healthcare provider to craft a personalized plan of care that addresses the patient's unique needs and provide support to the caregiver as well. Your loved one's journey towards recovery and rehabilitation begins with the support and expertise of CenterWell Home Health.

Tip #1 - Learn about ADLs

Knowing about activities of daily living (ADLs) can be a helpful way for caregivers to assess an elderly parent or loved one's true ability—and discern where to offer help and meet essential needs. Additionally, a caregiver may find opportunities to reduce stress and practice better self-care.


When thinking about ADLs, consider those basic tasks we all do every day, many times without thinking about the task or struggling to do it. ADLs fall into six general categories recognized by clinicians and healthcare providers. 



6 activities of daily living



Walking (or called ambulating by a healthcare professional) measures the ability to move independently and change positions without help. Age affects stamina and balance, both of which can affect the ability to walk. 




For this ADL, feeding means the simple act of being able to use utensils and eat without help. This is different than the instrumental activities of daily living  which focuses on cooking and meal preparation—a more advanced skill.




Dressing involves not only the ability to put clothes on but the know-how to pick the correct type and fashion appropriate to a time and place.

Personal care or hygiene


Personal care includes maintaining cleanliness, bathing, and grooming. This ADL can offer visible clues into an older adult’s mindset, especially if a senior isn’t changing clothing, following up on routine visits to the dentist or doctor, or isn’t bathing regularly. 




Incontinence occurs when a person loses control of their bowels and bladder. When caring for elderly parents, be aware of the behavior surrounding this issue. 


Incontinence can be embarrassing and even cause a senior to isolate at home.


If privacy prevents open discussions, quietly observe the general environment. If possible, talk with your loved one about seeing a primary care doctor who can diagnose symptoms.





Using a toilet requires strength to bend, sit, and stand. If a senior adult can’t get to and from the toilet independently and maintain healthy hygiene, a caregiver may recognize the need for further care or help.


Tip #2 – Consider the required skills for successful functioning

When the day or to-do list runs long, caregiver frustration can grow, too. It’s easy for those who have full function to become impatient with an aging loved one. These feelings can be compounded when coping with aging parents or a spouse who may be stubborn or have little insight into their own decline. 


Understanding the reasons may encourage a more empathic view and even lead to finding innovative ways to cope.


Several skills allow a person to successfully complete tasks, including:


  • Motor skills like balance
  • Perceptual or sensory
  • Physical ability
  • Cognitive ability


Weight loss, depression, isolation, and falls are all clear indicators that aging loved ones may need more intervention.


Tip #3 – Use observation and reporting tools

When a person loses the ability to perform routine daily tasks, safety issues may become an even greater concern.  Continually assessing your aging loved one with the help of a care team or primary care doctor can help caregivers share the burden.

Simple tools include:


  • Checklists
  • Assessments
  • Industry tools like the Katz Index


The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living is a widely used tool that anyone can use. Through assessment, doctors and caregivers can determine one’s level of ability and the best treatment plan for everyone moving forward.


Content contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your health care provider before beginning any new fitness or dietary plan. References provided are for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Should you have any health-related questions, you should contact your health care provider.








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