Pie and Cake for Caregivers

Time for some pie charts, to explain to your how your life changes, depending on your loved one’s needs. Consider there are four stages of care: basic, intermediate, advanced, and end-of-life. When you understand the demands placed on you for each stage, you will be able to better utilize your time and energy more efficiently.

Your loved one is also going through changes; you may begin to see signs of frustration and defeat as independence gives way to dependence. The greater the need for help, the greater the sense of helplessness, unless you can get creative and empower your loved one to continue contributing to the relationship.
 
Pie Talk:

What You Experience:

 


Basic Care

This is the primary stage, where your loved one is actually able to handle many of his or her needs independently, provided you lend a hand. Your relationship at this point is still fairly flexible and you are able to provide assistance on a short-term basis, such as while your loved one recovers from illness or surgery, or on a long-term, ongoing basis, by scheduling your assistance when it’s convenient for you. 

 

Intermediate Care

This is the secondary stage, where your loved one needs a little more help, due to increasing limitations, either physical or mental. You begin to find yourself juggling your “to do” list, giving up some of your own free time in order to provide care whenever it’s needed.
 
 
 

 

Advanced Care

This is the third stage, where your loved one needs a great deal of help in order to function on a daily basis. Independent living is no longer an option. This is the time you begin to utilize resources in order to maximize your support system and maintain your own sense of self.
 
 
 

 

End-of-Life Care

This is the final stage, when your loved one is likely to enter a formal hospice program. While cure may no longer be an option, comfort is critical to maintaining quality of life. Worries, fears, and anger can complicate and compromise your loved one’s wellbeing almost as much as physical discomfort.

What Your Loved One Experiences:

 


Basic Care

Your loved one can feel uncomfortable asking for assistance after surgery, during treatment for illness, or even as age takes a toll. Help your loved one maintain as much independence as possible in order to preserve the delicate balance between patient and caregiver. Empower; don’t hinder your loved one’s ability to function by insisting on doing everything.
 

 

Intermediate Care

Your loved one might find it easy to accept your help on a temporary or limited basis, but as the need for care increases, so do the reactions on both sides. For people used to taking care of their personal hygiene, daily routines, and mobility on their own, needing a caregiver can be a bitter pill to swallow. For caregivers, managing both your own life and your loved one’s can be challenging. It takes time to adjust your relationship and work out the kinks.
 

Advanced Care

Your loved one can experience a loss of self as the need for care grows. Between the fatigue and pain associated with disease or aging, physical issues can be compounded by sorrow that life is changing in unpleasant ways. The greater the uncertainty of your loved one’s prognosis, the harder it is to manage fear and dread. When your loved one doesn’t feel well over an extended period of time, it’s like being on a sinking ship -- he or she can feel lost in a sea of tears.

 
End-of-Life Care

Hospice patients are beginning their final phase of life, and even though saying goodbye can seem like an impossible task, there are still things to be done. Final wishes, coming to terms with the worries associated with death and those left behind, and even ordinary tasks that may not have yet been completed can add to a loved one’s sense of being in limbo. Communication is critical between caregiver and loved one, in order to maximize comfort and relieve any sense of guilt. Death is not failure. It’s a part of life that happens to us all.
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