Comprehensive guide to long-term caregiver stress relief and elderly parent care tips

5 December 2023 dot 5-minute read
Healthy body Healthy Mind Live Well Living healthy Managing stress
As a caregiver, taking care of one self is important. This is so that you can take care of others better. (Credit: Shutterstock)
In an era when our ageing population continues to expand, the role of long-term caregivers has become increasingly prominent. In fact, according to,​ approximately 76 per cent of employees in Asia serve as caregivers for their families.
While this act of devotion is undeniably heart-warming, it comes with a set of challenges that can lead to overwhelming stress and emotional exhaustion. This is known as caregiver burnout.
Recognising caregiver stress is essential, not only for their well-being but also to ensure effective and compassionate support for those they care for.
In this guide, we will explore the evolving role of long-term caregivers, learn the importance of managing caregiver stress, and share supportive strategies.

Understanding caregiver stress

Caregiver fatigue appears when those supplying long-term care for elderly parents or loved ones face substantial physical, emotional, and psychological strain. This often results in emotional exhaustion, heightened anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed. 
Recognising the symptoms of caregiver burnout is critical. It can manifest as fatigue, irritability, disruptions in sleep patterns, and even physical ailments. Caregiver stress can exert a profound influence on both mental and physical health, potentially contributing to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and hypertension.
Caregiving duties can be as broad as supporting with daily needs to managing financial matters or booking medical appointments. Balancing these with one's own personal and professional demands can be taxing. 
Beyond logistical challenges and time pressures, caregivers may also face emotional and psychological struggles, including guilt, grief, and the emotional toll of witnessing their loved ones' decline in health. 
These challenges highlight the importance of comprehensive support and effective coping strategies for caregivers.

"Insert small pockets of positive moments that lift your mood every day. These moments can be unexpected, done by others unto ourselves, or deliberate ways we know help us feel a little more relaxed or happier."
Dr Anabelle Chow

Effective stress relief strategies for caregivers

a. Self-care for caregivers

In order to provide the best care for others, caregivers should not neglect their own wellbeing. This should encompass three areas:
  1. Prioritising physical health through regular​​ exercise and a balanced diet.
  2. Managing emotional well-being through activities like mindfulness and stress reducing techniques.
  3. Having a strong support network can offer emotional relief and a valuable platform to share experiences and challenges with others who understand according to Homage.

b. Time management and organisation

Managing caregiving responsibilities effectively requires strong time management and organisation skills. Caregivers can benefit from schedules, to-do lists, and routines to help streamline tasks and reduce stress. Implementing tools and strategies for better time management can alleviate the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed.

c. Setting realistic expectations and boundaries

Setting realistic expectations for what can be achieved in a day and establishing clear boundaries between caregiving duties and personal time is essential. Accepting that it’s okay to ask for help or delegate certain tasks is also important. This approach helps to prevent caregiver burnout syndrome and maintain balance.

d. Respite care options

Respite care offers caregivers a much-needed break from caregiving responsibilities. Whether it's through short-term in-home care, adult day care centres, or temporary stays in assisted living facilities, respite care options provide caregivers with the opportunity to recharge and focus on their well-being.

​Quick relaxation techniques

Finding stress relief in just a few minutes is key when faced with limited opportunities for relaxation. 
One technique to achieve this is box breathing, also known as square breathing. WebMD states, it works by distracting your mind as you count to four, calming your nervous system, and decreasing the symptoms of stress. 
To practice box breathing, simply find a comfortable position, and follow these steps:
  • Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  • Hold your breath for four seconds.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for four seconds.
  • Pause for four seconds before breathing in again.
  • Repeat until your mind is clear and your body feels relaxed.
    Learn more about the benefits of breathing exercises here.

    Schedule time to bring the elderly out for a stroll outdoors so they don‘t feel constrained at home. (Credit: Getty Images)

    Tips for long-term care of elderly parents

    Creating a safe and supportive home environment

    A safe and supportive home environment is the foundation of caring. Make necessary modifications to living spaces, such as adding handrails, removing tripping hazards, and improving lighting to prevent accidents. Creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere is also important to foster a sense of security and enhance overall well-being.

    Health and medication management

    Managing a loved ones’ health and medication requires careful attention. Maintain accurate records of medical appointments, prescriptions, and any changes in their health. Regular consultations with healthcare professionals are essential to their well-being. 

    Communication and conflict resolution

    Effective communication forms the backbone of a harmonious caregiving relationship. The article “Tips for Communicating with Elderly Parents Who Refuse Care” highlights the importance of fostering open and empathetic communication to address concerns, preferences, and potential conflicts.  
    Actively listen and understand your loved ones’ needs and wishes and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings. Developing conflict resolution skills, such as negotiation and compromise, will help maintain a positive and supportive environment.
    Caregivers hold a vital role in elderly parent care and caring for loved ones, offering not only physical assistance but also emotional support and companionship. Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and seeking support is paramount. In the long run, with resilience and self-compassion, you can provide the best care by maintaining your well-being.
    Joining a wellness programme like AIA Vitality can provide valuable benefits for managing stress. Engaging in activities with like-minded individuals reduces isolation and provides a support network for sharing experiences. The rewards that members receive for achieving health goals serve as a bonus to the social connection they gain from participating in the programme.
    18 Evolving employee benefits to address employee stress and widening health protection gaps. (n.d.). 18 Evolving employee benefits to address employee stress and widening health protection gaps. (n.d.). [online] [Accessed on 23 September 2021]
    Homage Malaysia.  Coping with Caregiver Stress: 10 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burnout - Homage Malaysia. [online] [Accessed on 15 November 2022]
    WebMD Editorial Contributors.  What is box breathing? WebMD. [online] [Accessed on 9 April 2021]
    Ayoub, M. (2023, March 13). Communicating with Parents Who Refuse Care · Pomeroy Living. Pomeroy Living. [online] [Accessed on 9 April 2021]

    This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.