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Tips for Caregivers

Migraine disease not only affects the 37 million Migraineurs who deal with it, but their family, friends and colleagues. Migraine is the 12th most disabling neurologic condition in the United States, and can at times leave a person feeling isolated and frustrated. Caring for a Migraineur can be just as exhausting and overwhelming, but mutual kindness, understanding, and compassion may make things a bit easier.

Personally, I believe an extremely important detail in caring for someone with Migraine disease is the ability to listen. Being able to really hear what a Migraineuris saying is vital – If you ask a Migraineur how they are feeling, be sure to listen to their answer. If they are in the middle of a bad pain cycle, ask them if there is anything they need help with; for example house work or errands. Just letting a Migraineur know you are there to offer support can be extremely important, as well.

It’s beneficial for a caregiver to learn everything they can about Migraine disease. It is a genetic neurological disease that is as real as diabetes, or any other serious health condition. A Migraine not only affects our heads, but our entire body. Vomiting, nausea, dizziness, exceptional moodiness and sometimes paralysis – can all be part of a Migraine.

It’s important to understand any needs Migraineurs may have based on their individual symptoms. For example, low lights for photophobia, quiet if they are phono phobic, or items that help with nausea (saltines and candied ginger to name a few). If they are having problems with work, find out all you can about the Family Medical Leave Act and American with Disabilities Act. Having someone in our corner can make all the difference in the workplace and doctors office. Find a Migraine and headache disorder support group to join where you will be able to interact with other Migraineurs and caregivers, share tips and experiences.

Try to attend a doctor’s appointment with your Migraineur. If you are not clear on something the doctor says by all means ask questions until you are comfortable with the information you are getting. Watch what happens in a doctor’s office when a Migraineurs is accompanied by a caregiver, spouse or significant other. It’s almost as if some doctors (not all) validate the disease because someone else is there to confirm how bad (or good) the Migraines are – “oh, his Migraines must be really bad if he is bringing you along.”

Self-care is, of course, equally important for caregivers. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, not skipping meals, and not overtaxing yourself. Maintaining emotional stability is instrumental to having a good caregiver/patient relationship. Having a hobby and keeping up with friends are good ways to get out of the house and practice self-care. Make sure your caregiver goals are realistic. Putting too much pressure on yourself is not good for you or the Migraineur. A well-educated caregiver will be a better advocate and friend, which will benefit both of you.

As a Migraineur or a caregiver, do you have additional tips to share with the community? Please post them in the comments.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jojiieme
    4 years ago

    I’m very late to this discussion, but this seems the most appropriate place to write my Top Tip for Carers/Caregivers:
    Distraction can be a wonderful tool for helping us not overuse medications. So yes, please supply us with music and programs rather than expecting conversations or games participation. But PLEASE! Try not choose action-spy movies or concert DVDs, home improvement programs featuring power tools, sports finals, war movies… You get the drift.
    My partner is wonderful, he cares deeply and chooses carefully – cop shows, classic Broadway musicals (which I can’t stand anyway), and the Walking Dead zombies… 🙁 🙁 Sigh.

  • Not Carly Simon
    8 years ago

    Be willing to bend or butt out. One of my chief annoyances is when my family refuses to adapt their lives to avoid triggering my migraines. I got sick to the point of puking for 6 hours the last time I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy from the grocery store. It should come as no surprise to any of you that I will not eat any of these items preprepared from a store again. My family likes fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy, and go after me for not letting them have it. I’ve told them numerous times that they can have those things if they want but that I am not touching them. They then get mad at me for eating something other than the Migraine chicken. The same kind of thing happens when my my family wants to use cream soups or flavor packets (two things loaded with MSG) in her cooking. they either has to make something else, not use the offending ingredient, or accept that I’m not going to eat that food. They often do neither and criticize me for not sharing dinner instead.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator author
    8 years ago

    Thanks for reading, carsch. I agree with you about bending or butting out! People should respect our food triggers, just like we respect their choices.
    Do you have to bring your own food now to your family events? Kind of a drag, uh?

  • Carly
    8 years ago

    I think that is a great idea. Having had migraines since I was a teen sometimes they have become part of the background of my life. I forget that I have them (the little ones). Its like tying your shoes or brushing your teeth. My boyfriend can always tell I have one even if its small by how I hold my head or how puffy my eyes look and sometimes reminds me that Im not as good as I think I am.

    Women tend to hold in their pain and suffering at times to avoid feeling/sounding whiny. Sharing how we feel or even having a safe word for ‘I have a migraine today’ can be helpful. I use that with my boyfriend if we are out and I need to leave. This helps him understand that I am not ditching him but have a real reason for needing to leave the loud bar/event we are at.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator author
    8 years ago

    Thanks for reading. I don’t know why so many women are stoic about hurting – most of the time when we admit we hurt, we get the compassion we are looking for.

  • janenez
    8 years ago

    I’m inviting my husband to my next appointment. He remembers to ask things I forget and he can engage the doctor when I’m in pain. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator author
    8 years ago

    Hi Janenez,
    Thanks for reading! I’m glad you thought some of my suggestions were helpful. It is amazing how much we can miss at a doctors appointment. Always good to have another set of ears.

  • Oksana
    8 years ago

    I am very fortunate that my family understands some of the misery that goes with chronic migraines, but I think it took my husband watching the occipital nerve blocks and shots in my forehead to understand how desperate I had become. Now, thankfully, when it hits, the lights go off, the kids are quiet, and I get the help I need.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator author
    8 years ago

    Thanks for reading Oksana. Family support is so very important in helping people with chronic illness. I’m happy to hear you get the support you need. Migraine does affect the entire family!

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