I talk a lot about the life stages of a caregiver and the caregiving experience. For our Caregiver Smile Summit, we actually broke our segments into 12 life stages in order to mimic real life. Let’s take a look at 11 of them. Can you relate to the following?
Many are thrust into caregiving out of the blue. Now is the time to plan and adjust your mindset and your attitude to prepare you for the road ahead.
Before you can take care of others, however, you must take care of yourself. There are apps to help, holistic practices, energy healing, and more; all striving to chill you out, help you take a breath, and take care of you!
There is no need to go it alone when caregiving. Leaning on others is one thing. But being efficient with your use of time and technology can go a long way in helping.
This can include anything from organizing tips around your lifestyle to making quick meals for you and your loved one. The goal is to help you simplify your life and pay attention to what is important.
Once you have your health in order and your plan in place, it is time to deal with family members. It could be involve talking with your loved one about dementia, the desire to capture their life story, or dealing with an estranged family member. Getting on the right page is essential.
Avoiding exploitation. Managing debt. Medicaid spend down. You can’t be a complete caregiver without managing the legal and financial minutia. And it’s better to do that when your loved one’s health is in order and your family is aligned with you in a plan.
Six out of 10 caregivers are in the workforce, and the workforce culture has a long way to go in creating supportive cultures for caregivers. That is why exploring the issues of ageism, dealing with unsupportive co-workers, knowing your rights, and more is so important.
Not every caregiving situation is about caring for an older person or even someone with dementia. It could involve caring for an autistic child.
In any case, knowing the resources available for your specific situation is key. Whether it’s online portals to local support groups, now is the time to dig into the nitty gritty of caregiving.
There is a progression in caregiver life stages, which corresponds to a progression of possible living scenarios for those for whom you care.
Ideally people want to age in their home. It may not be realistic for some, however. We have explored aging in place through several videos here on Sixty and Me. From technologies to strategies to finances and more, you can create a sensible plan for your loved one to stay where they are!
There may come a time when advanced care is needed. It is never too soon to explore and understand the options in senior housing, the acuity level they address, and how it is all paid for – one of the least understood topics of all.
Every caregiving situation ends. Are you prepared? Do you have advance directives in place? Are you considering hospice? Do you know what hospice provides? Is your estate plan in order? In our Summit, we gently and respectfully guide you through the inevitable issues that we all will face some day.
Have you thought about how your purpose may change once you are no longer a caregiver? I never thought my caring would end, but, in reality, it was just a short two-and-a-half-year period. Then I had to get back to the business of my life and career. Now you need to restore your joy and find new purpose.
If you want help at any stage, consider attending our third Caregiver Smile Summit. This year we have 43 experts exploring 39 topics. Altogether, our Summits have attracted 135 experts covering 128 topics in 12 categories of care.
Which one of these stages are you in currently? What do you find most difficult to do as a caregiver? Do you need help managing your situation? Please share with our community.