Mar 09, 2024

Steve’s Caregiver Story: It’s Important to Know You’re Not Alone

At age 19, Steve’s older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The two were sharing an apartment at the time. Whenever his brother was going through episodes and experiencing symptoms, Steve did his best to provide emotional support and alleviate his brother’s feelings of paranoia.

“I didn’t identify as a caregiver back then,” says Steve. “I was just doing what I thought was needed to be done as a loving and caring brother.”

Over the years, as his brother’s mental health has declined, Steve’s caregiving role has become more involved. In addition to providing emotional support, Steve also helps out with shopping, personal hygiene needs and acts as his brother’s advocate for obtaining support services. “I find a great deal of my time is spent navigating the mental health system for the services he needs,” says Steve.

Like so many other caregivers, Steve often feels pulled in many different directions. “My biggest challenge is finding the time to balance my brother’s care, work a full-time job, spend time with my wife and kids, as well as provide caregiving support to my ageing parents.”

For Steve, setting boundaries is key. “Although I make myself available to my brother and parents, I do set boundaries on the frequency and time of day I am supporting them,” he says. “This allows me to take care of myself through sleep, exercise, meditation or some much-needed downtime. If you don’t set boundaries, eventually caregiver burnout will become a reality.”

Steve also found connecting with other caregivers through the Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) extremely helpful. “There are weekly support meetings where you can share your stories. You quickly realize that you’re not alone,” says Steve. “Building a sense of community and having that support network allows you to face caregiving challenges with confidence and peace of mind,” he adds.

In attending support groups and sharing his story, Steve has been able to help other caregivers navigate their own caregiving journeys. “Helping others gives me a great sense of personal fulfillment,” says Steve, who now volunteers as a peer mentor with the OCO. “The less you focus on the doom and gloom of your experience, the better life will be for you, your loved one and others around you.”

Steve’s top 3 tips for caregivers:

  1. Set boundaries – such as the frequency and time of day you are available to provide support.
  2. Take care of yourself – if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be well enough to support your care recipient.
  3. Connect and learn from other caregivers – they can help with coping strategies, navigating the healthcare system, emotional support and more.


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Most of us, at some point in our lives, will be a caregiver to someone close to us. A caregiver provides physical and/or emotional support to a family member, partner, friend, or neighbour. Who do you care for?