The Stages of Caregiving

Too often, our aging family members believe that aging in place, or living out their retirement years in their own home, is the best senior living option. However, aging in place often means another family member must serve as the primary caregiver.

Sometimes the transition is gradual. The adult child will begin helping an aging parent with everyday tasks like housekeeping or cooking. Or, sometimes a sudden illness or injury will lead the child into a caregiving role. No matter how you find yourself becoming a caregiver, the journey you will follow is similar.

A Caregiver’s Journey

While caregiving can be a rewarding experience for both the person giving and receiving care, caregivers often face distinct issues and concerns. Knowing a bit about the road ahead will help you better prepare for the future, as well as allow you to provide the best care possible for your family member.

These common stages of caregiving have been identified by researchers:

Stage One – Acceptance

The first stage of caregiving begins when you start to notice a decline in your family member’s health. You realize that they will be relying on your assistance, so it’s time to accept your role and start educating yourself. At this stage, you will gather as much information as you can about the person’s medical conditions, get financial and legal documents in order, and discuss future wishes.

Stage Two – Finding Support

Six months into your caregiving journey, you will likely seek support from others. You may turn to other family members or healthcare professionals. You may also start researching options for senior care like assisted living, skilled nursing or in-home care to help alleviate some of the stress you are experiencing. Respite care services can also give you a break from caregiving duties, allowing you a chance to attend to your own health, run errands or simply enjoy lunch with a friend.

Stage Three – Burnout Prevention

Family caregivers often become so entrenched in caregiving duties that they begin to experience burnout. Performing repetitive daily tasks and watching your family member’s health decline can negatively affect your own physical, mental and emotional health. At this stage, it is important to seek assistance from professionals, if you haven’t already, or look for respite services to ensure the best quality of life not only for your family member but for yourself.

Stage Four – Relinquishing Your Role

In the final stage of caregiving, your role as a caregiver has ended. Your family member is now in the hands of professionals, and you are finalizing the end-of-life plans you set in place. Many family caregivers begin the grieving process at this point, but it is important to also look back and reflect on the happy memories you shared.

Senior Living Communities Make Life Easier for Family Caregivers

Today, more and more older adults are recognizing the value of transitioning to a senior living community before they need intensive, daily support. Older adults can move to these communities while they are still active and healthy, knowing that if their needs change, supportive services are available. These services provide peace of mind for residents as well as for family members. If you are considering a senior living community, please take our five minute quiz to learn more about care levels and available options.