The Caregiving Continuum
Three major stages comprise the caregiving continuum—the pre-caregiver–one who is yet to enter the world of caregiving; the caregiver–one who is currently providing care, and the caregiver survivor—one who no longer actively provides care.
Many of us would respond in disbelief if someone told us, “One day, you will be a caregiver.” People follow unique paths to the role of caregiver.
Rarely are the steps taken definable as we answer the noble call of caregiving. While each person steps forward in a time of need, the paths we take are unique.
The more aware we can help you be during this pre-caregiving stage the better illuminated your path will be as you find yourself involved in a loved one’s affairs and care. Professionals are urged to use these informative articles to also help families know what to expect.
Caregiving encompasses a broad range of duties.
It often starts when you care for a loved one at home, from a distance, or with help provided by an in-home care service and/or the use of adult day care services. As your loved one’s care needs grow, you may choose the homey environment of a board and care, residential care home, or an assisted living community. When your loved one’s condition declines further, you may need 24-hour skilled nursing care. Finally, while your loved one’s life draws to a close, palliative care offered by hospice is often welcome.
Along the caregiving journey, you may need an elder law attorney to help you set up an estate plan and a durable power of attorney for healthcare, and an accountant or a tax advisor to help you manage your loved one’s finances. These legal, financial, and healthcare related topics will be covered under Health & Finances.
Just as the journey leading to caregiving is unique; so is the journey after caregiving. Whereas, the statistics paint a grim picture of the number of caregivers who actually survive the experience, those of us who do, take each day at a time as we reconstruct our lives without our loved ones.
There are no set guidelines and each of us follows a different path. For example, some of us believe: Once a caregiver, always a caregiver. Many of us find ourselves helping others to navigate their own journeys or volunteer at local organizations where our knowledge and experience benefits others. Others of us choose to let time do the healing as life increasingly fills the void.
Brenda Avadian, MA