Change your life! Feel the power

Two seniors look at photos in a scrapbook.

Your mother has dementia and has asked you the same question over and over all day: “Where’s Tom?” You start feeling frustrated—and guilty for not being the perfect caregiver you want to be.

One positive way of dealing with this situation is to say, “Tom’s not here right now.” Then distract her by suggesting that you start making lunch, folding laundry or doing another simple task together.

Research shows that people who take an active, problem-solving approach to caregiving issues are less likely to feel stressed than those who feel helpless or worry all the time. 1

10 ways to take charge

While it can be rewarding, being a family or friend caregiver can be emotionally and physically demanding. You can do things every day to feel more prepared, confident and less stressed.

  1. Join a support group of caregivers—make friends, pick up tips—and keep in touch with family members and friends. You won’t feel so lonely.
  2. Don’t do it alone. Ask for help. Look for ways to involve others.
  3. Take care of your health. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and see your doctor.
  4. Keep a journal. It can be good therapy and a way to keep your notes and information handy.
  5. Anticipate crises and have plans ready.
  6. Keep learning through doctors, reading, a support group and so forth.
  7. Reward yourself, even if it’s only a long walk. Make time each week to do something you want to do, such as going to a movie.
  8. Find local programs that may help: transportation, meals, home healthcare services, respite care.
  9. Set priorities, make lists and follow a daily routine. Say “no” to taking on more.
  10. Feel empowered! Increase what you know and understand. Educate yourself to make good decisions. Believe in yourself and your ability to make changes.


1. “Caregiver Stress,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, last accessed January 29, 2021,, opens new window