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 5: The Transitioning Caregiver
My role is changing.
Who are you?
You’ve been a caregiver over a period of several years and have recently made a decision about your role as caregiver. Or, your care recipient’s condition has taken a turn for the worse and you know his time is very limited.
As a result, you’ve changed your role–or are just about to.
Your Keyword: Allow
–Allow time to mourn and grieve;
–Allow remembrances to remain;
–Allow reflections of your experiences.
To walk with your care recipient during his last months and weeks, implementing his or her decisions about end-of-life care that you both discussed during Stage 1. This stage is about loving and feeling good about the shared journey. As you both feel the journey end, this is also a time to mourn and grieve. As you mourn, you might find yourself questioning what will be the next chapter in your life. You’ve been a caregiver for so long, how can you possibly do anything else?
As a “transitioning caregiver”, what can you do?
1. Allow yourself time to mourn and grief.
A nursing home placement may have been as painful a loss as a death. Both experiences are tremendous losses–and need to be respected with time to process, and then heal, the emotions.
2. Remember your care recipient.
You don’t have to give away clothes or remove pictures–until you want to. When family and friends seem hesitant to talk about your care recipient (they worry they will upset you), assure them that sharing memories, laughs and stories brings you great comfort.
3. Reflect back on your caregiving responsibilities and decisions with pride.
Find comfort in knowing that you did the best you could. You did your best, which is the very best you can hope to do.
4. Review your journal.
How are you different today than you were on the day you first started writing in your journal? How will you use this experience to enhance your future relationships?
Excerpted from www.caregiving.com: The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey, a handbook for family caregivers by Denise M. Brown.