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The ups and downs of caregiving

Posted: April 05, 2021

Last updated date: December 06, 2022

Serving as a caregiver is valuable and can be very rewarding. But it’s definitely not easy. People who are dual-eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare may have serious health conditions. And the constant demands of caring for someone with special needs can take an emotional toll. Knowing how to manage your feelings can make your role as a caregiver more successful and rewarding.

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Which of these statements are true for you?

Here are common emotions caregivers feel:

a.  Some days are better than others
b.  I know my role is valuable, but it can be frustrating at times
c.  I sometimes feel guilty for having negative feelings about my caregiving
d.  All of the above

If you chose “d,” you’re not alone. Caregiving often comes with highs and lows. The highs can give you energy, but the lows can be very tiring. Negative thoughts and feelings are also normal. But you do need to deal with them. Ignoring negative emotions can lead to problems with sleep, substance abuse, overeating and illness. Any of these can make caregiving feel harder and less enjoyable. How to manage your feelings can make your role as a caregiver more successful.

Coping skills for caregivers

It can be hard to deal with your own emotions when you’re working hard to take care of someone else. But coping with your feelings is important. Caregiver stress, caregiver fatigue and caregiver guilt. These are some of the most common emotions caregivers feel. Below are skills to help you deal with these and other caregiver emotions.

How you feel

Ways to help you deal with it


Caring for someone with an illness, injury or disability can be a challenge. And that can be stressful. Sometimes caregiver stress can lead to other health problems like depression or anxiety.

Try to keep a regular schedule for meals and bedtime. Get plenty of sleep (7-9 hours) a night. Take walks and try to carve out time during the day to take deep breaths, stretch or meditate.

Fatigue (Tiredness)

Caregiver fatigue, or caregiver burnout, is when caregivers become mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. It can lead to bad feelings and resentment.

Feeling overwhelmed, not ready or having no choice but to be a caregiver can all lead to caregiver fatigue. Focus on taking care of yourself and ask for help.


Sometimes the person you care for may not be grateful or even want your help. That can make things even more difficult. Tension and flare-ups often result.

Forgive yourself. Learn to walk away and take a time out. It may also help to talk to someone who’ll let you vent about what’s triggering your feelings of anger.


Feeling hopeless or helpless, feeling no joy, difficulty sleeping and anxiety. These are all are signs of depression. Caregivers can be at-risk for depression, so think about how you’re feeling day-to-day.

If you feel depressed, take it seriously. Make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional. Exercise, therapy and medication can help with depression.


Being responsible for another person’s health and well-being can make caregivers feel anxious or fearful.

Having a back-up plan may help lower anxiety. Find someone who can step in to take your place for an hour a day. Also, talk to someone you trust about your worries.


Caregiver guilt is common. That’s because we’re often thinking that we should be doing a better job. Or that we should always love being a caregiver. Or that we should never be impatient or irritated. The list goes on and on.

Go easy on yourself and set realistic standards. Perfection is not the goal. Be proud of yourself for wanting to be an excellent caregiver. But give yourself some slack when excellence doesn’t happen.


It’s human nature to feel resentment or envy. Caregivers might be jealous of friends who have more daily freedom. Or of relatives who live far away and don’t have to share in caregiving.

Jealousy happens. But try to avoid focusing on jealous thoughts. Instead, try to focus on what you do have. Being grateful for what you have may help turn around feelings of envy.

Resources to help caregivers

For many people, becoming a caregiver is often a new experience. It’s understandable that you may feel unsure or overwhelmed at times. That’s why it’s important to know where to go for help. On the UnitedHealthcare website you’ll find valuable information and resources to help you on your caregiving journey.

UnitedHealthcare also offers dual-eligible health plans, or Dual Special Needs plans, to help people who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare. Those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare often have serious, ongoing medical needs. Dual-eligible health plans are designed to simplify life for members. And they can simplify life for caregivers as well. These plans make it easier to coordinate care for people who need to manage multiple doctors, specialists and care services.

See UnitedHealthcare plans in your area

Dual-eligible or Medicaid plan benefits can change depending on where you live. Search using your ZIP code to find the right plan to meet your health care needs.

Still have questions

We’re here to help

Contact us at:
1-844-812-5967 / TTY: 711
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.

Still have questions

We’re here to help

Contact us at:
1-844-812-5967 / TTY: 711
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.