Dear Barbara, I’m a Caregiver and I’m so beat up. When do I just say I’ve done all I can?

Now! Sounds like you’ve reached your limit. It’s time to put your “oxygen mask on.”  You can’t provide good care  when you are “so beat up.”  That isn’t good for you. And it isn’t good for the person you are caring for SO———-

Find some help. Speak to who ever you need to and say “I need a break. After the break we can reevaluate how I can be a Caregiver. Things have to change.”

At some point if you are planning on returning after your break make a list of what are the hard parts, the impossible parts, the okay I don’t like but can deal with it parts, and don’t forget the good parts, the I really enjoy doing this parts.  

Look at the emotional aspects of your situation. “I feel I have to do this even though I am unhappy, I feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities, I am sad because life has come to this.”

And then there are the physical aspects of caregiving, “I’m tired, I’m not physically able to do what is required of this job.”

Caregiving requires knowledge also. Do you know how to be a Caregiver, how to provide physical care, nutrition, how to meet another’s daily and often nightly needs?

Think about what you need to return to work. Are there “tools” that will make your job easier if you return? Are you working too many hours? Too many days? Are you taking regular time off?

How do you take care of yourself? Do you get enough rest, eat healthy, have some down time, some play time, some alone time? What are your social interaction with others, do you have someone you can complain too, download with a listener?

Life puts us in challenging situations. Oftentimes it is not where we want to be. Sometimes it seems we don’t have a choice. Maybe you can’t quit, maybe there is no one to take your place, no one else to do the caregiving. 

If that is the case and you are not able to leave, you can change. Change what and how you are doing, set limits, take time for yourself, begin taking care of yourself while you are caring for another.

My wish for you is to get rested, learn how to take care of yourself, to get your needs met. My wish for you is also to find joy, peace of mind and fulfillment in being a Caregiver.

Something More… about I’m a Caregiver and I’m so Beat Up

I have put together a guide book for caregivers caring for a loved one in the home. Caregivers need support and education. By Your Side- A Guide for Caring for the Dying At Home is a 72 page, spiral-bound guidebook addresses end of life choices (life sustaining, comfort care), advance directives, and funeral planning. It details signs of approaching death (what to look for, what to do); describes end of life care at home; pain management; care of dementia patients at end of life; and, very importantly, how to take care of yourself as you fulfill your role as Caregiver.  

Originally Published on

Barbara Karnes Registered Nurse

Barbara Karnes, RN Award Winning End of Life Educator, Award Winning Nurse, NHPCO Hospice Innovator Award Winner 2018 & 2015 International Humanitarian Woman of the Year

While at the bedside of hundreds of people during the dying process, Hospice Pioneer Barbara Karnes noticed that each death was following a near identical script. Each person was going through the stages of death in almost the same manner and most families came to her with similar questions. These realizations led Barbara to sit down and write Gone From My Sight, "The Little Blue Book" that changed the hospice industry.