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Stages of Care – Caregiving Changes as Time Passes

Caregiving changes as time passes. Here are the five stages and what you may need to think about in each stage.
  1. You’re getting close to your loved one needing care. It’s clear you’ll need to start helping your family member or friend with daily tasks soon.
    • Talk to doctors, lawyers, the bank and a financial advisor to learn as much as you can about the situation.
    • Start researching care options you may need later on.
    • Include your loved one in plans and decisions about their care.
  2. Care begins. There may have been a turning point or serious illness for your loved one. They can’t live independently anymore.
    • Learn about their condition and how to provide proper care.
    • Consider filing a Power of Attorney form so you can be included in medical discussions without violating HIPAA requirements.
    • Make decisions about care arrangements: For example, living at home or in a care facility, do they need household chore help or a home health aide.
    • Take care of yourself: Perhaps join a support group.
  3. You’ve been caring for several years. You’re involved in almost daily care, and it can take a toll.
    • Set limits so you can still have a life outside of caregiving. Ask for help when you need it.
    • Take breaks, and don’t feel guilty about your own needs. Find community resources or neighbors who can help out.
    • Develop a support system: Friends and family are great resources.
    • Seek counseling if you need help understanding your feelings.
  4. Your role is changing. Your loved one can’t live at home, even with help.
    • Look into assisted living, skilled nursing or hospice options.
    • Think about and talk to your loved one about end-of-life care.
    • Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and allow yourself to grieve.
    • See a professional counselor if you need help talking about grief.
  5. You’re no longer caregiving for your loved one. Now it’s time to take care of yourself.
    • Treasure your happy memories and relearn how to enjoy “you” time.
    • Get counseling to help you move on from your caregiver role. You’ve lost a loved person, and it’s not uncommon to need help.
For more caregiver information and helpful checklists, download the Caregiver Booklet (PDF)

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