Family Caregiver Guide

If you are reading this, you or someone you care about is likely struggling with some illness. Ensuring that your loved one gets the best possible care is very important to you right now.  You are hoping for the best possible outcome.

Serious illness is scary for patients and families.  While many great advances have been made in modern medicine, the healthcare system is often confusing and frustrating.

One or more doctors are taking care of your loved one and likely ordering many diagnostics tests and procedures. You are likely feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of medical information you are getting.  It can be difficult to figure out what is going on and how best to help your loved-one. 

Being a family member of someone who is very sick is also exhausting.  Your everyday life has been turned upside down.  It is easy to neglect your own needs.  In order to help and care for someone else you also need to take care of yourself. This guide offers practical advice for how to support your loved-one, your family, and yourself during this time of stress.

Project Director

VJ Periyakoil, MD
Stanford University School of Medicine


James Hallenbeck, MD
Stanford University School of Medicine & VAPAHCS

VJ Periyakoil, MD
Stanford University School of Medicine & VAPAHCS

Disclaimer: Please note that every person and family is different, unique. Not everything written here will match your situation and your needs. We do hope you find some information in this guide that can help you and your family find your way through this difficult time.

Intended Audience

This guide is for family members and friends of people who have developed a serious or advanced illness.

This is a part of a larger effort to improve access to quality health care and provide support to rural patients and families. We have intentionally developed an online version of this guide in addition to a print version as we want to make this freely available full text to patients and families everywhere.