Six Stages of Caregiving

Adapted from The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey by Denise Brown

Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver

Key Word: ASK
Purpose: Preparation
At this stage you have not started caregiving, but acknowledge that you may soon begin this role either with your spouse, a parent, sibling, child, or friend. Checklists to help you know what to ask, along with links to websites with important information are included in this section.

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Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver

Key Word: FIND
Purpose: To learn what services and support you need and where to find them.
You have just begun to help care for a loved one, and it is occupying some time once or twice a week. You may be helping with bill paying, running errands, taking the person to appointments, or supporting an in-home caregiver locate additional people to help. Direct hands-on care is minimal during this stage.

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Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver

Purpose: Implement Stages 1 and 2
This often is the hardest stage since it encompasses the physical aspect of caring for your loved one. Your responsibilities have increased to providing daily help, support, and comfort. This is when you remind yourself you are running a marathon, not a sprint and are open to accepting help wherever, whenever, and from whomever you can. This is true for the caregiver and the caree.

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Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver

Keyword: WELCOME

Purpose: Welcome laughter, shared activities, and opportunities to forgive
You are still absorbed with caregiving but have become more philosophical about your situation. You look for ways to find humor in the routine occurrences on a daily basis, learn to forgive, and value activities that bring you and the caree together.

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Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver

Keyword: ALLOW
Purpose: Allow time to just be as you are in the final months and weeks
Hands-on caregiving may continue or come to an end because your caree needs more care than you physically can provide. During this stage you focus more on “being” than “doing.” It is important to find and allow time to grieve and mourn the impending loss of your loved one, and reflect on your lives together and what you have been through in this process. You may even find yourself wondering what you will do when caregiving ends.

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Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver

Keyword: Treasure
Purpose: This stage never ends and will continue through your lifetime. You will treasure your memories and share what you have learned with others. This sharing with others may give you a new sense of purpose. You will find resources and links in the Grief and Bereavement section of this website that are helpful for this stage of being a caregiver.

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