A Day In The Life Of A Caregiver

For those of us who care for a loved one, days are filled with trials and tribulations. Did you ever see yourself in this role for a parent, partner or other loved one? Not necessarily. It takes strength and courage to do all you do every day. Not everyone is cut out for it. But you do what is necessary for your loved one, because you care.


Everyone has challenging moments where you wonder how to keep up caregiving responsibilities while maintaining, and enjoying, your own life. But people develop coping skills from personal experience and from fellow caregivers.

  • Structure
    Having a plan for the day’s activities, rather than playing it by ear, provides routine for your loved one. It also helps to make your duties feel more manageable.
  • Personal activities
    Whether pie baking or guitar playing, integrating your own interests into your caregiving duties adds enjoyment not just for you, but for your loved one.
  • Perspective
    Being realistic about what you’re humanly capable of helps to accept that you can’t “do it all.” You do what you can, and shouldn’t beat yourself up for not doing more.
  • Extra Help
    Asking for help is sometimes a necessity, even if it’s just an open ear. If you lack family or friends to turn to, don’t feel ashamed to hire someone to help.
  • Self-Care
    Scheduling time for yourself in advance helps to ensure it happens! Whether a date night, a field trip with the grandkids, or just curling up with a book or DVD, self-time helps to replenish caregiving energy.

One Day in the Life of A Caregiver

From waking to retiring, your loved one's daily life becomes part of your own. Whether routine care or specialized treatment, you’re there for your loved one in whatever capacity they need – from physical assistance, to note taking, to emotional support. Loved ones have varying levels of need, and caregivers each provide different aspects of care, but your days may be similar.

6:00 AM-12:00 PM: Morning Rush

Caregivers kick off the day early, rising or arriving to help loved ones through their morning routine, from showering to dressing to grooming. No matter their mood, the day is welcomed as a pair. Breakfast preparation and clean up, assistance with toileting, and laundry fill a typical morning, and doctor’s or other appointments might be regular occurrences.

Along the way, morning conversation ranges from routine to revelatory; it amazes us the little life secrets we learn during these commonplace one-on-ones. Playing music that you both enjoy can foster further connection. Music therapy is often used to calm or stimulate dementia patients, but it can have similar effects on anyone. A strong beat can be energizing, and acoustic tunes can improve focus. Having a few playlists ready to complement different moods can provide a boost just when needed most!

12:00 PM-2:00 PM: Mid-Day Organization

After a busy morning, you are likely famished and ready for lunch! Lunch time frequently also means medication time, since many prescriptions need to be taken with food. Helping loved ones take their medications properly is one of the most important tasks as a caregiver… To stay organized, create and maintain a medication list and bring it to every doctor’s appointment and visit to the pharmacy. Helpful information to track includes brand and generic names of each medication, dosing and frequency, and the reason for taking each pill. Don’t forget over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. The more information the doctor and pharmacist have, the more accurately they can identify drug side effects or interactions.

2:00 PM-5:00 PM: Afternoon Boost

Life doesn’t stop even for a late-afternoon break on an extra-busy day. If being on-task for hours is wearing your out, change things up a little. Check with your local senior center for activities that your loved one might enjoy. She’ll get important stimulation that comes from social interaction, and you will get some precious moments to yourself to take a brisk walk outside, read a few chapters in an engaging book, or take a power nap. Even ten minutes can be restorative and stress-reducing, especially in the mid-afternoon when our bodies often experience a dip in energy. After a re-charge like that, accomplishing those tasks you wanted to put off earlier, such as calling the health insurance company about a claim, might not seem so daunting.

5:00 PM-7:00 PM: Crowd-Sourcing Dinner Time

How did it get to be dinner time already? Whether your loved one lives with you or independently, meal preparation is one aspect of caregiving for which you could seek resources that can lighten the burden. You can often find meal delivery and preparation services by talking to neighbors, friends, or family members; by searching online; or by contacting your local area Agency on Aging. Coordinating help from friends and family, if available, in preparing meals several times a week is another time-saver and is a great way to get others involved with your loved one’s care.

When the menu planning falls to you, consider nutritious crockpot recipes that produce plenty of freezable leftovers so that you do not have to spend every evening in the kitchen. Keep the fridge stocked with healthy, soft snacks like yogurt and berries to fill in gaps between meal times. If all else fails and you call in an order to your favorite takeout place, be kind to yourself! Enjoy the meal that someone else has prepared—and, best of all—the lack of dirty dishes!

7:00 PM-9:00 PM: Evening Unwind

Caregivers and loved ones are both typically wiped by the end of the day. Some wind-down time makes it easy to be together without high expectations. Indulge in whatever activity appeals to you to help you relax, whether it’s working on a craft, catching up with a friend on the phone, watching a movie, or shopping on the Internet. If planning the next day or reviewing the family finances while reclining on the couch will help you feel prepared and quell some anxiety, that is fine, too. Do whatever you need to do—no self-judgments allowed!—but do try to back away from tasks as bedtime approaches to allow your brain to relax.

9:00 PM and Beyond: Early to Bed

Preparing loved ones for bed might be fairly quick or more involved, depending on their mobility and needs—and the amount of help needed might not be the same every night. Starting the process before everyone involved is overly exhausted is a good idea. For example, helping with bathing and changing into pajamas before relaxing in the evening might break up the routine into manageable pieces. Have supplies your loved one might need overnight within reach, such as a pair of glasses, a glass of water, or fresh incontinence supplies in case a midnight change is needed.


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