I’m the primary caregiver for my aging parents, and I’m emotionally and physically exhausted and stressed out. How can I get some help?

It’s understandable that you’re feeling tapped out. Elder care stress and burnout are real and need to be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are things you can do. Here are a few suggestions for where to start.

Asking for help is hard, but your health depends upon it.
  • See your doctor. Stress can cause anxiety and/or depression, which are both serious conditions that can impair your ability to function. Talk to your doctor about your role as a caregiver and ask about any medical conditions that might bring on mental health issues.
  • Join a support group. This can be a lifeline for you! Just talking to others (either in support group meetings or online) can help you feel less alone. You also might pick up some new ways of coping with your stress.
  • Have a family meeting. Either in person or via video chat, gather any siblings and other relatives and let them know how you’re feeling and that you need help now. Consider inviting close family friends who may be able to pitch in on occasion. Stay firm in your request for help. If you don’t get help now and you totally burn out, it’s going to be way more work for them.
  • Schedule breaks for yourself. This may be difficult but it’s necessary to help you recharge. Meet a friend for dinner, take a walk, go to a dance class. Sometimes just venting your frustrations to someone who will listen without judgement is the best therapy.
  • Search for help online. The aarp.org website is an excellent resource. The AARP Caregiving Question and Answer Tool is filled with information that you’ll likely find helpful.

The hardest part is asking for help, and you’ve already taken the first step. Try some or all of these tips—your emotional health depends on it!