Finding Resilience and Support as a Caregiver

Health & Well Being

Providing care for a loved one is a selfless way to show commitment but can also come with its own unique set of pressures and challenges. Caregiving can often be a full-time job, and with that comes an immense amount of responsibility. The added stress can take its toll on physical, mental, and emotional health. As the number of caregivers continues to rise, it is critical to address how those who provide care can build resilience and for allies of caregivers to understand how they can offer support and lend a helping hand.

Caregiving with “protective factors”

Considering the wide variety of tasks caregivers take on during their day-to-day routine, it’s not surprising to hear that burnout and a sense of exhaustion can be a common occurrence. Caregiving can often include a number of stressors including emotional and financial burdens, increasing the need for activities that can help caregivers cope and combat the challenges they face on a regular basis.

A recent study produced by UnitedHealthcare, Optum Labs, and AARP Services, Inc. outlines how “protective factors” play a role in the caregiving process and can help combat feelings of exhaustion and depression. These individual factors play a major role in productive caregiving by prioritizing the well-being of the caregiver and ensuring that they have the tools they need to find success. The protective factors that seem to have the most impact for caregivers include:

  • High purpose in life: finding a driving factor that motivates you and sparks action
  • Diverse social connections: having a network of friends, family, and others that you can call on for support and encouragement

Fighting stress with a sense of purpose

Whether you’re giving care as an individual or with the help of others, it’s natural to sometimes feel as if you are alone. As your focus shifts away from yourself to the needs of another, it’s possible to experience a loss of personal identity and a sense of isolation that can contribute to feelings of loneliness or depression. Keeping track of your own interests and personal connections is an important step in reducing burnout and reconnecting with the sense of purpose that ignites your ability to provide compassionate care.

If you or a loved one are showing signs of stress or exhaustion, consider ways you can shift the focus back to self-care and personal growth. Finding purpose in caregiving is a powerful tool in combating negative feelings and can help put into perspective just how important this role can be. Examples of activities that can help restore a sense of purpose include:

  • Attending support groups or connecting with other caregivers
  • Journaling about personal experiences, successes, and challenges
  • Taking time to reflect on the positive impact caregivers make in the lives of others
  • Setting personal goals for emotional, physical, or mental growth
  • Staying educated with workshops or classes dedicated to caregiving topics
  • Accepting help from others and building a personal network of support

Building a supportive community

In a world that can often seem chaotic and stressful, caregivers thrive when they can rely on a strong support system of loved ones and peers. Whether it is friends, family, or members of the community, supporters can make a world of difference when it comes to meeting the emotional needs of caregivers and reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Connecting with others, sharing experiences, and exchanging resources are all vital to the well-being of caregivers and their feelings of being heard and understood.

If you would like to support a caregiver in your life, consider providing support in the form of additional communication. Keeping in regular contact and expressing interest in their life and activities can go a long way in combating the sense of seclusion that often comes with the caregiving process. Tips for fostering communication with a caregiver include:

  • Texting or calling for regular check-ins
  • Planning events or get-togethers that accommodate the caregiver’s schedule
  • Creating a space where the caregiver can speak without fear of judgment or negativity
  • Discussing topics outside of caregiving that speak to other interests or hobbies

Although no two caregivers share the same experience, a little communication and care can go a long way. To find additional resources for caregivers and those that they support, visit