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Caregiver Strength - Patience


Being a caregiver isn't for sissies. Caregiving takes physical, mental and emotional strength. The demands of a caregiver require a certain fortitude that many believe they are unable to display.

Think back to your beginning days as a caregiver, or perhaps there is a single moment you can pinpoint when you knew your world was changing. Do you remember the fear, the panic, the soul-crushing uncertainty of how you would handle it all? Or maybe you’re in that moment now.

Fear not. Like any muscle, caregiving muscles can be built and strengthened. In fact many caregivers have said they didn't realize just how strong they were until they became a caregiver. So don’t worry, you've got this!

Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at the some of these muscles every caregiver needs. The good news is that you already have these muscles, they just might need to be strengthened a bit.



Some people are just born with limitless patience, but for the rest of us, this is a muscle we must train. I have found that like my lower abdomen, my patience muscle is a stubborn and weak one. But the good news is that I can work to strengthen both of them.

The best exercise to build your patience also happens to be the easiest exercise. All you need to do is stop. Yes, I said stop – as in do nothing. I know you’re excited about this, but I should note that stopping may not strengthen that lower abdomen, only your patience. Sorry about that.

Now back to building up your patience. Stop thinking about what needs to be done in fifteen minutes, one hour, tomorrow, next week. Stop living your life in the fast lane on your way to the next thing.

You are only required to live in this moment right now. When you find yourself moving into the fast lane, stop and think about the worst thing that would happen if you were late. What terrible thing would happen if you just stopped thinking about the future at this very moment and only focused on now?

Remember that life is not a race – in the end we all end up in the same spot, so do you really want to be in a rush to get there?

Of course, all of this isn't to say you shouldn't be planning or thinking ahead. Good caregivers know that planning ahead (as much as possible) is key to keeping your sanity and one of the few ways you keep from constantly living in crisis mode.

There is a difference between thinking ahead and daydreaming or worrying about the future. Set some time aside each week for future planning. Actually schedule this time in your calendar. This could involve scheduling appointments, meeting with a financial planner, or attending a support group. Once you have this dedicated time to plan, you can more easily focus on today instead of worrying about tomorrow.


Next month we will focus on strengthening your determination muscle. If you have a story about how you’ve used determination as a caregiver, I’d love to hear it. Send me an email at [email protected].

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. July 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Posted by Debbie

    Reading Donna's story really hits home about the crying in the shower or anywhere for that matter.I've been caring for my bed ridden husband for 10 years now,he was in a motorcycle accident at age 46 and was completely disabled by it.It has totally changed our lives,I never in my wildest thoughts would have thought I would be caring for him in our younger years,but, " It is what it is" .I believe that we do need to have a melt down every now and then,in private,I try not to let him here me cry,for his sake,but it does help relieve some stress...... Sites like yours do help when you can relate to others going thru some of the same issues. Thank you for your site.Debbie


  2. July 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Posted by Harry W. Jell

    I've been a caregiver of my 55 year old son, together with my wife who died seven years ago, since his birth. He suffers from cerebral palsy and grand mal seizures. I'm 89 years old with no help or backup. Except what's available for $20+ an hour. Three hour minimum. Life is mighty tough, let me tell you.


  3. April 20, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Posted by Donna

    You are absolutely right, being a caregiver is not for sissies. I am considered pretty strong and tough, but having been the caregiver to my mom 24/7 for 3 years, I can tell you it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Nothing I have done in Corporate America has been as tough as this. I am grateful for the ability to work from home and be there for my mom, but that does not mean it is a bed of roses. I have learned that I need to stop making it appear like it is a bed of roses and show the truth. I had too many family members getting jealous of the life my mom was living, but what they do not see or hear about was the tough days. Or the nights that I cry myself to sleep or stand in the shower to cry over the woman that was my mom and how she has changed.


    • May 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Posted by Cat Koehler

      Donna - You sound like a blessing to your mom! And you're right, there are times when things are wonderful, and times you want to scream and run away. Good for you for taking off the mask of perfection and letting the truth shine through. It takes a lot of courage to do that, but ultimately, it's one less thing you have to keep up. I say on the days you aren't crying in the shower (and we've all been there!), you should just sing. Sing really great songs as loud as you want. Stay strong, Donna! Cat Koehler


      • July 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Posted by April Delavan

        I am out of patience with my dad. He doesn't say thank you or recognize the many different ways I'm helping him. He has paid caregivers who help him with showers. making meals, laundry and other duties. He still lives in a apartment by himself. I am social security payee and write checks to pay his bills. I schedule and take him to doctor appointments and do grocery shopping. I'm so tired of being taken for granted. I have attended a monthly caregiver support group before. I wish there was someone I could call after having a frustrating incident /day with my dad. My husband tries to give me support but there isn't much he can do to change the situation. In an ideal world dad would be living in an assisted living facility. But he isn't eligible for Medicaid since he has a rental. Oregon considers this an asset even though it is in an irrevocable trust. The stress is putting a serious strain on my marriage.


        • August 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Posted by Christine

          Dear April My Mom was not one to say thank you either. After a couple of years of taking care of her, one day she did. My brother and I looked at each other in shock, and immediately set about worrying "is this the end"? I have no idea what happened, how this new word entered Mom's vocabulary, but I will always remember it. And I heard it for the next three years, many, many times right up to the day that she passed. It was not that Mom wasn't grateful - it just wasn't something she did. Be patient - perhaps your Dad will learn the word too. And as for a support group - it seems you have found one here. Hang in. There will be a day when you will look back and know that you did the right thing. Especially if you read some of the horror stories of facility care. Nobody can replace a daughter. Christine


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