Avoiding Caregiver Burnout

Being the caregiver of a loved one with dementia is challenging.


Kimberly Shapkin, a nurse practitioner at the University of Calgary, has observed caregivers getting stuck in a downward spiral of feeling frustrated and even guilty over not providing the care they would like for their loved one. This can result in burnout and prevents caregivers from taking care of themselves. Shapkin shares three ways caregivers can invest in their own well-being.

1. Find Support

To avoid burnout, Shapkin believes the biggest benefit for families is to create a personal support network. “People need to give themselves permission to lean on the community that supports them,” says Shapkin. A good place to start is by identifying the people around you who are good listeners, willing to step in for everyday tasks, or who can provide respite. This might be friends, family or members of a faith group, or formal resources like a support group or home care. Once you identify those able and willing to help, the next step is to ask for it.

2. Get Outdoors

Walking is great for self-care as it has physical benefits and can improve mental and emotional health too. A daily walk in nature improves how you feel about yourself, reduces stress and depression and boosts energy; making it an especially great thing to do when you’re feeling tired and low. It’s even something you can do in the company of your loved one, giving you both a sense of peace.

3. Take Time

With a support network in place, give yourself permission to take some time for yourself. “Only once caregivers find someone to talk to and feel their loved one is safe are they able to practice self-care,” says Shapkin. Think about what makes you feel good and reminds you of who you are, like laughing with a friend, reading a book or going somewhere new. Nurturing yourself reduces stress and restores balance, renewing the energy you need for the caring you provide.  [ ] 


Did You Know? Sporadic Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and the greatest risk factor for developing it is aging. Most cases begin after 60 to 65 years of age.