Please enjoy this series showing the challenges facing caregivers at different stages in the caregiving process. The full credits for this article are at the bottom, thanks.
Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver
I am still helping an aging relative.
Who are you?
You’ve been caregiver for an extended period of time. You’ve been through it all: hospital admission and discharges; short-term rehab stays in nursing homes; a vast array of community services. You may appear to doubt the advice given by health care professionals; you’ve just been through the health care system long enough to know that sometimes health care professionals may not seem to have your best interest in mind.
Some family members and health care professionals worry about your ability to find humor in situations they find offensive. They view your attitude as “calloused” and “uncaring”. Far from it, you have a very practical, very realistic approach toward your caregiving role–and your sense of humor has been a critical tool for your survival. Without your sense of humor, you would have given up a long time ago.
Your Keyword: Welcome
–Welcome the joys of your relationship;
–Welcome forgiveness (of yourself, of your care recipient, of other family members and friends, of the health care system, of your community, of your Higher Power);
–Welcome shared activities.
To gain a better understanding of yourself and your care recipient. You’ve settled into your role and your routine; now is your opportunity to step back and reflect. The first three stages laid the groundwork for this stage, your period of personal growth.
As a “pragmatic caregiver”, what can you do?
1. Work on finding joy in your relationship with your care recipient.
The biggest joy-killers may be your hands-on duties: bathing, dressing, incontinence care. But these duties bring you together, this is your time together. Add some fun to your hands-on care: Sing songs, tell jokes, share goals and dreams.
2. Work on forgiving your care recipient for past hurts.
Resentment toward past wrong and injustices will make your present caregiving role very difficult. Let go of what was and concentrate on making what is healthy and productive.
3. Develop a habit of enjoying shared activities.
Develop a routine of time shared as husband-wife, mother-daughter, father-son rather than as just caregiver and care recipient. Releasing the roles of caregiver and care recipient allows you to enjoy each other.
4. Begin to think about your future.
What goals have you yet to achieve? How can you achieve them? Can your care recipient help you achieve them?
Excerpted from www.caregiving.com: The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, a handbook for family caregivers by Denise M. Brown.