Caregiver Mistakes: Top 5 Mistakes Caregivers Often Make

If you are currently a caregiver or intend to become one, you should know the road that lies ahead. While caregiving can be a gratifying career or side job, it also comes with many challenges, both mentally and physically. It can be particularly challenging if you are a loved one of someone you provide services to. Thankfully, caregivers in the field have shared some professional insight to help navigate the role and what mistakes you can avoid.

Below are five caregiver mistakes that have been shared by other caregivers, with tips on how to maneuver around them. As with most jobs, you will learn by trial and error, but knowing how to handle certain situations before they arise can help create a collaborative and trusting bond between you and those you work with.

Ask Questions

Many times, the individual you are working with does not know what to expect. They may not know who you are or what your role is. Even if you have told them before, they may not have the ability to remember, depending on their diagnosis. Be patient with those that you are giving care to, and remember they have a lot going on in their body right now! One of the best things you can do when working with someone is to ask them simple questions about their preferences continuously. If they have difficulties speaking, use non-verbal communication like nodding or pointing. Try to ask open-ended questions, but if they struggle with decision-making, ask different types of ‘yes or no’ questions instead to avoid frustration. This can go a long way, as many people experience medical care that does not ask what they like or feel. Examples include:

  • Do you want to take a shower today?
  • What kind of wash would you like?
  • Would you instead want me to do x or y right now?
  • What kind of breakfast would you like?

Get StartedArguing

Many of us know that arguing doesn’t get anywhere, but this is especially true if you provide care to someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Some illnesses change people’s personalities over time and make them more aggressive than they used to be. Instead of arguing, navigate the conversation to different topics. There will be times where what someone is saying may not make sense, and they may even be mad at you about it. Learn to let things go and be compassionate. Move towards something they enjoy doing or that is relaxing. Something as simple as “I am going to make dinner, what would you like?” may change the tone of the day.


Caregivers are often mentally and physically exhausted. Lifting or rolling someone over to change their incontinence pads, running around doing errands, completing shopping, and taking people to appointments can drain the body. Often, caregivers experience burnout when they become so drained that it affects them physically, creating a sense of negativity, depression, illness, and many other ailments. Don’t let yourself get to that point. Some things you can do to exercise self-care include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Relaxing activities, like coloring or meditating
  • Spending time with your loved ones
  • Treating yourself with dinners or shopping
  • Going out with friends
  • Reading a book

Find what you love to do, and make sure you take the time to do it. You may benefit from therapy sessions if you feel you are going through some emotional hurdles as a caregiver. Respite services, which allow caregivers to take a break and the patient will still receive care, are beneficial services many hospice providers have. Take advantage of it if you feel overwhelmed.

Make it Part of the Plan

If you find things that your patient or loved one enjoys or prefers, talk to the caregiver’s employer on how to put them in writing. There is usually a treatment plan put in place that can include custom things that your loved one or patient enjoys. For instance, if someone strongly dislikes hot showers, there can be a note in their documentation that they prefer lukewarm baths or sponge baths. These are all great ways to customize and tailor care to what someone likes. Include activities that they like or things that help relax them, like reading to them or painting. Try new activities to keep things lively and communicate likes and dislikes to staff.

Be Honest

Whether the person you are caring for is a family member of your own or someone that you haven’t known before the job, you should be honest with the family about what level of care they are at. While this can be difficult, a person cannot receive the appropriate care if the severity of their needs is established. Typically, people’s needs increase with time. They should have their care adjusted to reflect that, such as increased hours or adding new tasks to their goals. This may include things that are difficult to discuss, such as end-of-life needs or added specialists, but it serves the long-term comfort of the patient.

As a caregiver, be compassionate with those you serve, but also with yourself. It can be extremely difficult to watch someone progress in their illness but remember you are the professional. You are meant to make them as comfortable as possible. It is not uncommon for caregivers to become part of the family if they aren’t already! This can be a very rewarding experience, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. You cannot give others the care they need if you do not care for yourself.

If you have questions or concerns about hospice care or caregiver support, our blog has excellent resources. We provide hospice care to those in Middle Georgia and want you to feel supported in your journey. Contact us today to speak to a professional about hospice services.


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