Stages of Caregiving

Jackie Bedard
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Perhaps you have read the books, or maybe you’ve seen an article in a magazine, or read it in a newsletter—the story related by the spouse who is caring for his wife, the story of the mom who is part of the “sandwich generation” caring for her kids and her elderly parent(s), the story of a family member whose life has been completely altered because she is now the primary caregiver for a loved one. It is well known that people find meaning and purpose by telling their stories and having them acknowledged and affirmed. If you search on the internet, you will find many caregiver stories, and after each is a section for comments where many have responded about how the story has touched their own life situation. You may find that these stories can help you as you travel through the stages of caregiving.

There have been various studies both formal and informal on caregiving and on the stages of caregiving, and the stages are not that different from the stages of grieving. Below outlines Dr. Eric Pfeiffer’s seven stages for caregivers of individuals who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, which certainly also hold true for those caring for individuals who have other chronic illnesses such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease.

•          Stage 1: Coping with the initial impact of being told the diagnosis.

•          Stage 2: To be or not to be— . . . a caregiver?

•          Stage 3: At-home caregiving—the long journey.

•          Stage 4: Considering institutional placement.

•          Stage 5: Caregiving during residential or institutional placement.

•          Stage 6: Death of the patient—grief and relief.

•          Stage 7: Resuming life—healing and renewal.

What is your story? Sharing and recognizing your stage as a caregiver can help you recognize that you are not alone. Resources for Seniors maintains a list of local support groups at: http://www.resourcesforseniors.com/pdf/suppgrp.pdf and Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center [link: http://www.guidinglightsnc.org/] was created to help local caregivers find the resources they need to care for their loved one.

Free Caregiver’s Guide:

Solid legal and financial planning is critical for a loved one with long-term care needs. Download our free Caregiver’s Guide to learn the critical information you need to know about caring for your loved one.