Adjusting to the Demands of Caregiving

A popular card for new parents reads, “Life as you once knew it will no longer exist.” That statement could be said for caregivers of adults as well. We may not know how much time caregiving requires until we experience it. Our lives can change dramatically, depending on the level of care required for a loved one. Knowing that some change on our part will be required, we have to be realistic about what time constraints will come with the change, find a way to maintain balance in our lives, and ask for specific help when it’s needed.

Being realistic

As we plan with our loved one, other family members, medical staff, and other professionals, we will need to determine what level of caregiving is going to be required and by whom. Our impulse may be to think we can do it all. We have to be realistic about what we can and cannot do as individuals. Caregiving might be one individual’s responsibility, or more likely a partnership shared with others. Even an individual caregiver needs support. Talking to others who have walked the same road will give a sense of how demanding this ministry may become with time. That voice of experience will help us realistically consider what adjustments to our lives we can manage. Although we can add more responsibilities to our lives, we cannot add more hours to the day. Knowing what we can realistically do or not do will help us consider what we may need to take off our plates so that we are not overwhelmed with the ongoing responsibilities of caregiving.

Finding balance

Research tells us how important it is to rest, rehydrate, and recharge. We know that an uncharged phone won’t do us any good if we want to call or text. But do we remember that an uncharged body, mind, soul, or spirit will do us little good either if we want to be fully present to help others? When Jesus was working with the disciples, there was a point when so many people were around them that the disciples didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:30). Jesus understood the need for balance. There were times he would go off alone to reconnect with God and recharge. Our bodies don’t have the low battery warning light that our cell phones do. Even if they did, we may ignore the warnings and go into a power-saving mode so that we can keep working even when we find ourselves tired or stressed. But at some point, we have to stop and recharge. As caregivers, we can allocate regular time in our schedules to care for ourselves. This may sometimes require eliciting help from others so that we can step away.

Asking for help

“If you need help, call me.” We have both spoken and heard those words. But have we ever followed through and offered help or called someone when they needed it? The Bible gives an account of a time when Moses should have done so. His father-in-law Jethro had watched Moses spend all day carrying the responsibility of judging the people by himself. Jethro told Moses the way he was doing his work wasn’t good. “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out,” he said. “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:18). Jethro then advised Moses to select capable leaders to help share the load so that the strain was bearable and the people would be satisfied.

Throughout the years my siblings and I cared for our mother during her journey through Alzheimer’s, we found that we had to be open to asking others for help. Sometimes we don’t want other people to see our loved one in a particular state. We want to protect them from prying eyes and wagging tongues. Therefore, as Jethro advised, we need to choose wisely whom we ask for help. We can select people with a skill, gift, or loving spirit that will meet a need our loved one has. This can be anything from cutting hair to organizing shelves. Some people are prayer warriors who would love to spend time praying with our loved ones for us. By giving our helpers a specific task to complete, both we and our loved ones are blessed by having a need met. The givers are blessed by having the opportunity to use their gifts. We can also take advantage of churches or local organizations that provide respite care and in-home services, some free of charge.

Being a caregiver will change how we live, and it will also change us. By God’s grace, we can rely on his strength to carry the load as we remember his promise to be our caregiver. We are told to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Our caregiver understands the challenges we will face. Yet he is there caring for us as we care for others. He provides wisdom as we learn how to meet the constant demands that come with being a caregiver. And he also provides others who are willing to walk alongside us when we ask them. With God’s help, we can find joy and strength for the journey.

About the author — Ardella Perry-Osler

Ardella is a writer with a background in teaching and educational leadership. In addition to spending many years in the public and private educational sectors, she is a Sunday School teacher and Christian Education Director. Ardella has also authored Sunday School lessons and devotionals for various publishers. Her first book, Learning to Love Olivia (2012), chronicles Ardella’s experience with her mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s. Ardella is a certified Biblical Counselor and also does volunteer work with young mothers. Her current blog, “I Need a Minute,” is at

Other programs from ReFrame Ministries:

© 2006–2024 ReFrame Ministries. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy / Sitemap

User Experience Design by Justin Sterenberg

Web Development by Build For Humans