Being a caregiver



I am a caregiver for someone with stroke. What can help make my journey easier?

People who may help guide your journey include:

  • Your loved one’s healthcare team. They can help teach you how to support your loved one’s needs.
  • Peer support groups. It might be helpful to talk with others who know what you are going through. You can share stories and learn from others.
  • Respite care. This is a service that provides short-term caregiving for your loved one. It can range from a few hours to a few weeks. You may need to pay for this service.

Things you can do for yourself include:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid every day
  • Be active
  • Plan a break time every day
  • Meet up with friends regularly
  • Do an activity you enjoy

What can I do if I am having some tough feelings being a caregiver?

Being a caregiver is both hard and rewarding. You are providing much needed support to your loved one. You and your family are making major changes to your lives. It will take some time for everyone to adjust to a new routine.

It is normal for you to feel:

  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Fear

What are some signs of caregiver burnout?

Here are some signs of caregiver burnout to watch out for:

  • Muscle tension
  • Body pain
  • Being tired most of the time
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stomach problems
  • Trouble getting better after getting sick
  • Old health problems getting worse
  • Trouble focusing
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Feeling helpless or overwhelmed
  • Feeling lonely
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Taking too much sleeping pills, other medicines or alcohol
  • Being easily upset or annoyed by others
  • Losing control physically or emotionally
  • Accidentally neglecting or being rough with the person you are caring for

If you see any of these signs, talk to your family doctor, family and/or friends. They can help you manage this. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is normal to need a break and focus on your needs.

Many people have written books about their experiences caring for a loved one after a stroke.  You may find it helpful to read about their experience. 

Here are a few examples:

  • One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and a Language of Healing, Diane Ackerman, 2011
  • Stroke! A Daughter’s Story, Doris Thurston, 2006
  • Lessons Learned: Stroke Recovery From a Caregiver’s Perspective, Berenice Kleinman, 2007
  • Living with Stroke: A guide for patients and families, Richard Senelick, 2010
  • Stroke Diaries, Olajide Williams, 2010

Where to learn more about this topic:

Toronto Central Healthline

Caregiver Support

March of Dimes Canada

Stroke Recovery Canada