Nursing skills: Tips for managing the stress of being a caregiver

More than 65 million Americans serve as a caregiver in some form, usually for an older loved one or someone living with a disability or illness. Nurses can also work as a professional caregiver in a patient's home, at an assisted living facility or elsewhere. 

Working as a caregiver means applying some of your most intangible nursing skills such as stress relief and open communication. It's important to learn how to cope with the negative feelings and difficulties that can occur in this role but also celebrate the rewarding side as well. 

What are caregiver duties?
Duties include promoting medication adherence, keeping an eye on health and also offering emotional care and companionship. Specific responsibilities a caregiver faces can change depending on who you are looking after and your experience or background. For example, if you have experience as a professional nurse or are working in a setting outside of the home, there is a good chance your caregiver duties include medical treatment and monitoring. This is an opportunity to work closely with a patient in an intimate and fulfilling way. 

For family members serving as caregivers, supervising a care plan and making note of any changes in health is a big responsibility. Other day-to-day caregiver duties may also include help with bathing, household chores or getting around town. It may also mean coordinating with health professionals or loved ones to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to scheduling and other needs. 

Serving as a caregiver is a difficult but rewarding role.Serving as a caregiver is a difficult but rewarding role.

Important tips
Whether you're a professional or simply serving as a caregiver to a loved one, staying organized is a way to minimize any issues from the get-go. There may be paperwork and scheduling related to keeping a patient healthy, and this can become a stressful task if you let yourself procrastinate. The same is true of daily chores like cooking and cleaning. 

At the same time, being a caregiver can be exhausting when added to the emotional toll the role can sometimes take. Staying proactive about these stresses is also key. Be sure to give yourself time to relax and unwind, as well as to air out any negative feelings by exercising or talking with a friend. The same rules that keep your patient healthy – such as eating well, getting physical exercise and staying emotionally available – are also essential when it comes to promoting your own well-being. That way you can continue to deliver great care and support without worry or compromise.

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