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Perhaps you’re caring for an aging family member or someone with a disability. We're reluctant to come to grips with the idea that a spouse, a family member, or a friend is aging and may have a condition where help is needed for daily activities. Likewise, if you're a parent whose child is diagnosed with a disability, it's difficult to realize how your life will be forever changed. The disability may impact your family’s daily life and your role as caregiver.

One in ten people in Arizona assists a family member regularly - they are Caregivers. For most people, it's natural to want to help, but caregiving can become a burden.

Learn as much as you can about your family member’s illness and about how to be a caregiver. The more you know, the more effective you’ll be, and the better you’ll feel about your efforts.

Know your limits. Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give. Set clear limits, and communicate those limits to professionals, family members, and other people involved. Seek outside help. Don’t go it alone. Reward yourself with frequent respite breaks. Link here for respite resources.

Accept your feelings. Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. As long as you don’t compromise the well-being of the care receiver, allow yourself to feel what you feel. Family meetings can help everyone to express feelings and explore ways to pitch in.

Confide in others. Talk to people about what you feel; don’t keep your emotions bottled up. Caregiver support groups are invaluable, but trusted friends and family members can help too. You may also benefit from seeing a therapist or counselor. The key is not to isolate yourself.

With planning, the experience can allow family members and friends to connect in new ways. There can be many stressors – changes in family dynamic, household disruption, and financial pressure. You can avoid burnout by following a few guidelines:

Suggestions? Comments? We welcome your input!