< Back to Living Well At Home

Setting Boundaries and Saying “No” as a Caregiver

Stop sign

Most caregivers have heard that taking care of themselves should be a top priority. After all, you can’t be much help to someone else if you are sick or too tired. But when you have to do so much for someone else, how can you find the time for yourself? Setting limits is often hard. But it is very important for you and for your loved one.

Here are some practical hints to help you do what must be done without getting overwhelmed:

Make a Plan

Make a chart of all of your loved one’s needs. Include how often those requirements must be met, and your ability to take care of them. Make another chart that outlines your obligations, such as work schedule, family commitments, or worship time. This is only a start, but it will give you a handle on what you will and will not be able to do. If your mom has a doctor’s appointment on a day you can’t take off of work, someone else will have to take her.

Get Help

You can’t do it all by yourself. Period. Enlist siblings, friends, neighbors, and professionals. And once they commit, make sure they follow through. Keep in mind that people don’t always need to be close to help. Your brother who lives in another state might be the best choice to sort out insurance or pay bills, for example. The earlier you put this support network into place, the better, but it’s never too late to ask for help. Remember, you are only one person and there are only so many hours in a day.

Reality Check

Caregiving will change. Medical and personal emergencies may occur. You may get hurt, or your loved one’s health may decline. When situations and circumstances change, be flexible yet firm about finding solutions to meet evolving needs.

Bottom line? Recognizing your own limits does not mean you’re abandoning your loved one. And saying “no” does not mean “I don’t love you.” The healthier and happier you are, the better you can care for others.

 

More Care for Caregivers

Sunglasses sitting on a beach chair at the pool
Groceries on kitchen counter
Goldfish in tank
Feet of a person relaxing in a pool float on a lake
Three open Chinese food cartons with white rice, fried rice, and spicy Szechuan chicken and chopsticks, packets of soy sauce, duck sauce, and spicy mustard on wooden surface
Stop sign
Shower chair
Older woman holding phone receiver to her ear
Coffee on marble countertop with heart swirl in foam
Older man on ladder clearing rain gutter
Group of folders. The first one is labeled "Medical".
An elderly person's New York City apartment
Person at cutting board slicing peppers
Woman in yoga pose
Physician checking a woman's blood pressure
Two people holding hands
Elderly couple, woman, facing camera, resting her head on man's shoulder. Man is looking down at her.