study from 2017 defined caregiver burden as, “the strain or load borne by a person who cares for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member.” Nurses are all too familiar with the instinctive concern for patients, and often equally so for the person sitting at the patient’s side. Many caregivers give up proper sleep, nutrition, recreation, and financial resources to care for a family member with a disease that requires comprehensive, and often constant, care. Many caregivers work in addition to caring for their loved ones and have personal and family commitments of their own. The caregiver burden begins when the caregiver sees that something has got to give, and the first thing to go is their own well-being.

Because the nurse is responsible for patient care, it may seem like it’s outside a nurse’s scope to address issues with caregivers. In fact, nurses are equipped to empower patient family members to lighten the burden of caring for sick family. This can be done by nurse researchers who can expand on current awareness, and by direct-care nurses who participate in caregiving with family.

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