Caregiver Question | 02/22/24

I’m sick of the stress.

DEAR CARALLEL: My husband and I take care of my mother and his father, and I don’t know where to go from here. My mom moved in with us in 2022 and then my father-in-law’s health took a turn last year and we were put on double-duty.

He still lives on his own a couple of towns over. It’s just that he needs us so much that one of us is constantly going back and forth. My husband is still working while I’m retired, so it’s usually me juggling both parents during the day. 

Most days it feels like everything is hanging on by a thread. I’m stressed from the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t feel this way. 

How can I manage the stress? What can I do?– Sylvia in Woonsocket, RI

DEAR SYLVIA: I’m glad you wrote in. It might not seem like much to you but I see it as an example of you acknowledging, and talking about, what’s weighing on you. It’s an important step because we can’t help ourselves until we acknowledge what’s happening. So…you’re already taking a step in the right direction!! 

Now for what it’s worth, it’s no wonder that you’re feeling the strain. You’ve got a ton on your plate and it all takes a physical and emotional toll. Especially as time goes on. 

And while I wish I had an easy button that you could hit to make the stress you’re feeling go away–I don’t. But I do have some ideas that might help you manage it. 

And they start with looking inward. 


Grab a pen and paper and think about what parts of your days or weeks stress you out. 

Do you run out of time in a day?

Are you concerned about what’s coming in the future? 

Are finances worrying you? 

Do you have loads of paperwork to sort? 

When you’re stressed, what parts of your body are affected? Write them down.

What do you say to yourself? Write that down. 

How would you feel without stress? And write that down, too.

Getting it all down on paper can help give you perspective.

What Are Your BUFFERS? 

These are things that are going well. 

Have you found a way to take a break? 

Have you learned more about a medical condition? 

Is someone doing a chore for you? 

Make note of things that are going well. And keep digging.

Because there are little “wins” all around you and seeing them for what they are can help balance some of the stressful feelings you’re having.

What Are Your BARRIERS? 

These are things that aren’t going so well. Write them down. 

Negative self-talk saps your energy and affects your focus. What could you say instead?

And what kind of help would ease your load? 

Rides? Meals? Someone to sit with your father-in-law? House cleaning? 

Try to be as specific as possible. For example, if it’s rides that you need–when do you need them? To where? How often? 

The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to ask for help. 

Re-phrase and Delegate 

Here are a few phrases to add to your day:

“I can take a moment to rest” – “One thing at a time” – “I’m learning as I go and that’s ok”.

Now when it comes to delegating, here are some people you can ask for help: family, friends, neighbors, church members, support groups, non-profit organizations, professional caregivers. 

And as I mentioned above, being as specific as possible when you ask makes it easier for people to say yes. 

Your Health and Wellness is Important Too

Thinking about yourself isn’t selfish. Try to carve out time for you each day. Even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Read a book, take a walk, go to that appointment, journal, talk with a friend, enjoy a hobby.

Even though they’re the ones that need help, your health and wellness is just as important as your mother’s and father-in-law’s. 

So try to make some time for yourself. 

First and foremost because you deserve it. 

And secondly–because it’ll go a long way towards helping you manage the stress. 

You can do this, Sylvia!

–Jennifer, Carallel Care Advocate

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