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The Caregiving Journey
Coping With Caregiving
Life changes in a big way when you become a family caregiver. Your transition to a primary caregiving role may occur in a gradual way or be a sudden development. Whatever the timing or circumstances might be, your new responsibilities can seem overwhelming.
Caregiving support might be needed for one of your elder family members. You may be helping someone who has a chronic condition such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or other disability. Regardless, there are many things to think about as you begin to arrange care for your loved one. Then you face the ongoing challenge of balancing your caregiving role with that of family, work and other activities.
As a caregiver, you can choose to take charge of your life— your loved one’s illness or disability doesn’t always need to take center stage.
This issue of Your Source, you'll learn about:
- A look at the different stages of caregiving
- Advice on setting boundaries and balancing your life
- Ways to improve your communication with health care providers
As a team member, parent, spouse or grandparent—as well as caregiver—you may often feel pulled in many different directions. It can be hard to do everything others want or need you to do. But by carefully managing your caregiving resources, while remembering to take care of yourself in the process, you can better manage the daily challenges of caregiving.
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Log on to access The Caregiving Journey and other helpful resources in the Spotlight section. Share this information with your family members and other involved in helping.
Understanding the Stages of Caregiving
The journey of providing care to a loved one is difficult but also rewarding. While every situation is different, veterans of caregiving have identified a number of stages most caregivers go through. In reviewing these stages, you may see yourself at a particular point. You might also find useful ways to think about caregiving.
I may help a relative soon
You and your loved one realize you may soon begin your caregiving role. You both take steps to prepare for that process. This is the time to get the care recipient’s affairs in order.
I am beginning to help
You may begin providing meals and running errands at first. At this time, you should educate yourself on all aspects of your loved one’s condition and decide how best to help. Join support groups that focus on specific illnesses or on caregiving in general. Don’t go it alone.
I am fully involved in helping
You are providing all aspects of daily care to a loved one. This role is now central in your life. Establish and agree upon a daily routine. Determine limits of care with which the two of you are comfortable. Accept help from family and friends, or hire a respite care provider. Take breaks from your responsibilities. Re-examine your plans for the future.
My role is changing
Your caregiver duties are coming to an end, either because you can no longer continue in your role, or because the care recipient’s remaining time is coming to an end. Allow yourself to reflect on shared memories.
My caregiving has ended
You are moving forward in your life now. You are able to look back on your caregiving years with happy thoughts of the one for whom you cared. You can now help and give advice to others who may be starting their own caregiving journey.
Remember that additional information, self-help tools and counseling resources are available to you through your program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.