Caregiving is a complex, emotional experience with inherent rewards, risks, and roadblocks. It pays to understand, then, the five stages of caregiving. A variety of experts and specialists who understand the intricacies of caregiving conceived and refined these stages.
- Expectant Caregiving
- Freshman Caregiving
- Entrenched Caregiving
- Transitional Caregiving
- Death, Rest, Renewal (End of Caregiving)
These stages aren’t concrete examples of what your caregiving experience will be like, but rather signposts revealing the different degrees in which a caregiver will be tried and tested. Each stage has its own issues, appropriate actions, and possible outcomes.
For more information, or to speak with an at-home caregiving specialist, call JEVS at Home today.
Stage 1. Expectant Caregiving
In this initial stage of caregiving, potential caregivers come to the realization that an ailing loved one can no longer care for themselves entirely. This realization may come from observed behavior, from a medical professional, or a combination of the two.
In some cases, a diagnosis may be a surprise. With it comes feelings of dread and stress surrounding a number of unknown issues.
It’s of great importance, then, that caregivers educate themselves as much as possible during this stage. Information needed includes (but is not limited to) the severity and prognosis of the ailment, availability of community & peer resources, traditional and non-traditional treatment options, and details regarding the roles and responsibilities of a caregiver.
Stage 2. Freshman Caregiving
The freshman stage includes the first six months or so of caregiving support. As this stage begins, caregivers have moved out of the initial shock and unsettling nature of the first stage and have figured out how to make at-home caregiving work.
Some may opt to pay for third-party care as this stage begins, realizing that they cannot be or are not willing to be a caregiver for their ailing loved one.
For those who decide on becoming a caregiver, there are many rewards. Continued emotional connection with a loved one as well as a greater quality of life for them are tremendous benefits of the at-home caregiving experience.
As caregivers acquire more knowledge and experience in the role, routines become easier to manage. Community resources usually enter the picture at this stage as caregivers look for additional support outside of their home.
Stage 3. Entrenched Caregiving
The majority of the caregiving journey is spent in the Entrenched stage. In this third stage, caregivers have established a firm routine for taking care of their loved one. Medications are routinely autoshipped; medical professionals have visits scheduled throughout the month and know the patient’s prognosis well; patients have time for socializing and other activities baked into a monthly schedule.
This third stage includes three additional stages depending on the severity of the patient’s ailment. Routines often differ based on which level the patient is at.
Patients can still do many things for themselves including light cooking, walking, socializing, and attending events or recreational activities. Very little third-party help is needed, if at all. Routines are fluid, fairly automatic, and without many barriers to completion.
The patient’s ailment is progressing. At this level of impairment, daily activities like going to the bathroom alone, cooking & eating, and basic mobility become more difficult often requiring assistance. Whereas the first level of impairment may allow a caregiver to leave their loved one alone for hours, this level denotes a need to provide ongoing care on a consistent basis.
Caregiving can be an enormous, all-encompassing endeavor. If not properly organized and regulated, caregivers may find themselves breaking down physically, mentally and emotionally. Many caregivers at this level decide to bring in additional services or third-party help when they cannot be present in the home. There are also a number of ways to manage stress while working as a caregiver to help alleviate some of the daily drain.
When a patient is at an advanced level of impairment, they are without many faculties and in need of round-the-clock care. Conversations with a loved one become fragmented at this level. Their ability to interact normally will be in a state of constant flux or completely devoid. Patients need help waking up, getting dressed, eating, taking medication, moving from one area to another (if at all possible), taking a bath, and more.
If care is continued at the home, a second caregiver may be needed to cover the primary caregiver’s off hours.
Stage 4. Transitional Caregiving
The fourth stage of caregiving is often the most difficult. In it, caregivers come to the realization that they cannot physically care for their loved one any longer. The patient’s needs have outgrown the caretaker’s abilities. Medical professionals come into the home as a permanent fixture, or the patient moves into an institutional facility.
Emotions tend to run high at this stage. Caretakers may need support from family members, friends, and community members in filling the void left when caretaking is no longer a primary responsibility. Some may even need help in deciding to send their loved one to an institution as caregiving has become a part of their identity.
The end of this stage is characterized by the caregiver returning to their normal patterns of behavior pre-caregiving.
Stage 5. Death, Rest, Renewal
The final stage of caregiving begins with the death of the loved one. This is a time for caregivers to reflect, meditate, and share on the experience.
Many caregivers may experience a level of grief leading up to and following this stage. This is normal and working through your grief, either on your own or with the help of your agency, is a healthy part of moving on.
Some conclude their caregiving journey at this point. Others may choose to continue, helping others in need of caregiving know-how. Planning for the future commences.
Caregivers bask in the knowledge that they gave their loved one the dignity and respect they deserved in their twilight. A zest for life springs from the caregiver and they approach all endeavors with a warmth and patience beyond their years. One life ends and another takes off.
How an In-Home Care Agency Helps in Transitions Between Stages
JEVS at Home connects caregivers with the resources and tools needed to provide the best care possible. Our world-class staff specializes in managing the difficulties and nuances of caregiving.
We’ll connect you with on-call support, training, certifications, and everything else needed to properly care for your loved one. Contact us today and discover how JEVS at Home can make your caregiving journey as comfortable as possible.