2 Tips for Managing Difficult Caregiver Emotions: Advice from a Social Worker

caregiver emotional stress

A major part of caregiver stress is caused by emotions

Caring for an older adult is a stressful challenge that often takes a toll on your health. But only part of that stress comes from juggling day-to-day tasks. An even bigger contributor is the strong emotions that naturally come up while caregiving.

To reduce the stress from caregiver emotions, we asked experienced social worker Florence Marchick for advice. She’s worked with aging adults and their families for over 24 years, so she truly understands the tough issues that caregivers face.

Florence shares her two best tips on how to manage the difficult emotions that come with caregiving.



How to identify common caregiver emotions

Identifying and acknowledging your emotions is the first step to dealing with them. Have you had any of these thoughts? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Florence has talked with countless numbers of caregivers with these same feelings.


  • I’m not doing enough.
  • I promised I would always care for dad at home.
  • I should be doing a better job.
  • I shouldn’t be feeling angry or resentful.

Sadness and depression

  • I’ve lost so much.
  • I just can’t cope.
  • I can’t stand for things to be this way.
  • It’s hopeless, there’s nothing I can change.


  • I feel abandoned. Friends and family have dropped away.
  • I have nobody to talk to anymore.
  • My social life is nonexistent. When would I have time for outside relationships?
  • I can’t socialize. I have to stay home all the time to watch mom.


2 tried-and-true tips to manage caregiver emotions

There’s no sugarcoating it, caregiving is a difficult and thankless job that comes with a double helping of strong emotions. Here are Florence’s top two pieces of advice that she always recommends to the families she works with.


1. Find support from people who understand
Finding people who really “get it” might mean going to a local support group, joining an online support group, or talking with friends and family who are also caring for older adults. Today, 1 in 5 people are caring for an aging adult, so it won’t be too hard to find someone who’s having similar experiences.

Venting your anger and frustration and sharing your experiences makes you feel better and takes a weight off your shoulders. Talking with others is also a chance to give and receive tips for solving the problems that keep you up at night. And sometimes, talking through a problem can lead you to a brilliant solution or help you accept a difficult decision.


2. Find humor wherever you can
It’s also important to find the humor wherever you can, even in dark places. It’s an amazing coping technique. You know what they say…you can either laugh or cry. After you’ve had a good cry, move on to finding the laughter whenever possible.

Don’t feel guilty, you’re not laughing at your senior in a malicious way. You’re laughing at a ridiculous situation. Often, your laughter will even inspire your older adult to laugh. That eases tension and lightens the mood for everyone.

Another reason to talk with others who are also caring for seniors is so you can laugh together about things only caregivers would understand. You’re like co-workers in the field of caregiving, poking fun at the crazy parts of your job. Trying to share the joke with non-caregivers just doesn’t work.


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Florence Marchick has a Master’s in Social Work and has been working in the field since 1978. For over 24 years, she has been working with older adults. Before her recent retirement, she was the social worker at Rosener House Adult Day Services program in Menlo Park. This included working with families during the enrollment process, family counseling, and running several support groups for caregivers. Rosener House offers an enriched therapeutic day program in a caring protective environment. Rosener House promotes independence and dignity for aging adults facing challenges and limitations, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, early memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, stroke, Parkinson’s, and other chronic conditions.


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis


This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


  • Reply October 16, 2017


    how do you deal with a patient tthat will not do anything to help them selves

    • Reply October 17, 2017


      This can be complex. It often depends on whether or not the person is still able to make sound decisions for themselves. If they’re neglecting themselves purposely, but are of sound mind, that is one issue. You cannot force a competent adult to do something they don’t want to do, even if it’s good for them. It’s different if the person has dementia and their symptoms are interfering with daily life and cause them to be unable to care for themselves. This article has information that can help — http://dailycaring.com/4-tips-to-deal-with-seniors-who-refuse-help/

  • Reply March 13, 2016


    There is a great book for not only caregivers but for life in general. It’s called”what to say when you talk to your self” A 20 min nap also helps.

    • Reply March 13, 2016

      Connie Chow

      Thank you for the book recommendation, we’ll have to check it out! And we completely agree, a little rest does wonders for the spirit.

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