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Full-time Family Caregiving – It is a Job!

Aids Health Foundation

By Joyce Hill


When you’re a full-time family caregiver, you may not need to hop in your car and drive to work, and you may not be getting paid to take care of someone who needs your assistance – someone who could not function without you. But being a family caregiver is real job that too often isn’t viewed as such by the outside world or (worse) by you.


If you’re feeling as though caregiving is just something you do rather than your real job, it may help you to switch gears and embrace your position. Think about how you respond when asked, “What do you do?” Do you say, “I take care of my [mother, father, aunt, uncle, etc.],” or do you say, “I am a Caregiver for my [mother, father, aunt, uncle, etc.]? By thinking and responding “I am a Caregiver …” puts you in a better mindset about your important job. But it’s just the beginning to valuing what you do as a job.

Here are other tips to help you navigate your position:

It is your job – you hold the health and well-being of your loved one in your hands.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’re at home all day without a boss looking over your shoulder that you’re not accountable.

  • Wake up before your loved one and start your day. Begin each day by taking care of yourself first. You’ll be surprised at how much less stress you will feel when you do this.

  • As you would for a job outside of the home, get ready for work – shower and dress for success. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll take a shower later. Put on fresh clothes – anything that’s comfortable, but definitely not Pajamas.

  • Go over your mental or written to-do list so that you know what you need or desire to check off as complete at the end of the day.

  • Set attainable goals for yourself to help you feel a sense of accomplishment every day.

  • Avoid too much television. Record programs for viewing when you’re not “at work,” and so you can treat yourself to much-needed downtime later.

  • Set ring tones on your phone for people you absolutely need to converse with and ignore the other rings. It’s easy to be distracted by callers who think you’re not really “working.”

Reach out for help and advice.

You may be un-gainfully employed, but you are not alone – you just happen to work from home. There are many people who are in the same boat as you are who spend their days caring for a loved one.

  • Just as you would in an office or other employment setting, share your knowledge and experience with others and learn from them as well.

  • Your local government’s Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start to find support groups and many other tips and resources including where to find those support groups, training, and much more.

  • Once you have found a kindred spirit or two who is also a family caregiver, start your own support group. Your group can be casual get-togethers over coffee or actual events with agendas – whatever you agree will work best for all of you.

  • Create a respite co-op where you trade hour for hour of caregiving to allow everyone a break – just as co-workers divvy up assignments in the outside world.

By approaching your work as a family caregiver as a real job and not just as something you do, you will be taking better care of yourself and your loved one.


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