How to set Boundaries as a Caregiver

Learning to set healthy boundaries as a caregiver is vital because being a caregiver comes with an immense amount of stress. That level of stress causes so many negative physical and mental effects. From a higher risk of depression, or even a literal “reduction in immune response,” the effects are far-reaching and dangerous for both the caregiver and the care receiver.

While it can be a difficult task to accomplish at the moment, setting boundaries will lead to greater peace of mind, and ultimately help you be a better caregiver.

Setting Boundaries with yourself

It’s important to set boundaries with yourself and have realistic expectations for what you are able to do. You don’t have to be perfect! Just know that whatever kind of service you are rendering, you are doing enough.

Just as you have to sharpen an axe before you can continue cutting wood, often you need to take a break and find a hobby to keep your mind sharp. It’s ok to step away for a minute or even take a day off, especially if it means you’ll be more patient, more energized, and better prepared to take on the challenges you face as a caregiver.

Setting Boundaries with family 

Often family relationships become strained as your loved ones age. Whether you wished someone helped more or maybe you feel helpless and like you can’t help enough, everyone has some kind of struggle going on. 

No matter what your family situation may be, know that you can set boundaries over time. It may be difficult to say no or speak up and voice your opinions. Just start a little at a time. It’s completely normal if you feel guilty after setting boundaries the first time, but eventually, you’ll feel so much better. 

Setting Boundaries with care receivers

Sometimes the hardest part of being a caregiver is learning to set realistic expectations for the person you are caring for. Whether that is expressing something you aren’t comfortable with doing, or even working to hire additional help for the person, just know that you are doing your best! Everyone is bound to be stressed as they lose control during one of the scariest points in their life. 

Sometimes a bit of empathy can go a long way. Be sure to express why you have the perspective that you do, while also seeking to understand the care receiver’s point of view. Hopefully, you can reach some sort of middle ground. 

If nothing else, just know that you are doing enough! It is okay to tell someone no and it’s okay to step away if things get too much.