Friday, July 3, 2009


Posted by Leona Bergstrom
The third stage of caregiving has been called “entrenched.” This is when a person is consistently involved in providing care for a loved one. Involvement is almost daily, if not constant. Usually, I’ve found that this is when a caregiver’s entire schedule is structured around the needs of his/her loved one. I’ve also found that this is when caregivers really begin exhibiting some of their own symptoms of fatigue, stress and burnout.

What does a caregiver need to do during this stage? First of all one must assess the appropriateness of the care environment. I’m seeing this with my own aunt as she has become increasingly weak and unable to navigate in her own apartment safely. My cousin has met with local service providers to develop a plan. While accessing services may cost extra dollars, it is relieving some of the pressure and stress on him! My aunt’s family can save their energy for enjoying visits that are pleasant and non-confrontational.

A second thing an entrenched caregiver needs to do is assess his/her own health and well-being. Too often the family caregiver begins to experience serious health issues – some which become fatal. Emotional and relational health can also suffer, so it’s important to take inventory of how things are going in a marriage, in a family or on the job.

And last, the caregiver needs to acknowledge and begin to process the losses and grieve them appropriately. We can never underestimate the grief and sadness that dwells deep in our hearts as we see our loved one decline in health or mental abilities. A friend of mine just lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease and expressed her surprise that grief had hit her so hard when she thought had been saying good-bye for so long. A caregiver support group is a great place to share such struggles and emotions.
(Photo by zampano!!!, shared via Flickr)

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