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 accept help wherever, whenever, and from whomever you can. This is true for the caregiver and the caree.

You are physically involved with care on a daily basis. If you are continuing to work, you might be making visits before or after work and making frequent phone calls. You might have had to move your caree into your home, which is a new situation for both of you and can add extra stress as your regular routines are disrupted. You might be noticing some signs of depression in yourself and the caree as each of you are experiencing loss of independence and function. Days can become long and lonely.

Setting up routines using all the resources you identified and chose in Stages 1 and 2 are now your lifeline and will be used on a daily basis. Sudden changes in routines and the situation become the norm and you need to be prepared.

  • Look through Stages 1 and 2 and follow through on items that are now important that might not have been then.
  • You will be doing more physical care for the caree and the videos in the Caregiving College Video series may be more helpful in learning specific techniques.
  • Transfer skills (6:19):
    Nutrition (6:53):
    Dental Care (6:42):
    Bathing and Dressing (6:29)
    Toileting and Incontinence (4:44)
    Behavioral Issues (7:18)
    Self Care for the Caregiver (5:39)
  • Always assess and reassess your needs, limits, areas of stress, and feelings. Do you find yourself in a tug of war with your caree? Are you sometimes angry or short when talking with your caree? Are there aspects of caregiving that are more stressful? Are you finding it harder to care for yourself or find a few minutes in the day just for yourself? Are there times when you can’t seem to meet the needs of your children, spouse, and career? Are you missing more time at work?
    Watch the video from the Caregiver College Video series on preventing caregiver burnout.
  • Forgive yourself and your caree for bad days and bad moments. Try to find humor in these challenging times.
    Go back to your list of community resources to find more help. If finances allow, consider hiring someone or look for volunteers in your faith community. Check out home care agencies.
  • An online or in-person support group can be a valuable source for answers. See the list of local support groups at the end of this section.
  • Consider taking leave from work or ask your employer if you can work part of the week from home.
  • Look for respite care from family members or area nursing or assisted living facilities. Respite care may be available for a few days, for a week or a month. It is a good strategy to assess whether this facility might be what you need later in the caregiving journey.
  • Update yourself on your caree’s illness and disease. Learn more about what the next weeks and months will look like and what additional changes you can expect.
  • Continue to list your caregiving needs for assistance on or pass them along to your family and friends.
  • If you have set up a Share the Care team, it might be time to have a second meeting. Contact your team captains.
  • If you are getting overwhelmed by visitors (common occurrence when you live in an apartment building, condo, or retirement community), put a sign on your door that says something similar to “XXX loves your visits, but now is not a good time. You can leave him or her a note on the pad in the basket on the porch. Thank you for thinking about us.” Your friends and neighbors have good intentions but may not understand the pressure you have to take care of the house and your caree and may need time alone.
  • Remind yourself that receiving help is okay and expected.
  • Recognize feelings of anger, negativity, and guilt. Find someone to talk to and seek professional assistance if they persist and interfere with your ability to continue to be a caregiver, are causing you to have difficulty sleeping, and impacting your health. Your personal physician is a good place to start.

Step 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver