I Am Still Helping

Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver

I am still helping a family member or friend.

Who are you?
You’ve been through it all: hospital admission and discharges; short-term rehab stays in nursing homes; a vast array of community services. You may appear to doubt the advice given by health care professionals; you’ve just been through the health care system long enough to know that sometimes health care professionals may not seem to have your best interest in mind.

Some family members and health care professionals worry about your ability to find humor in situations they find offensive. They view your attitude as “calloused” and “uncaring.” Far from it, you have a very practical, very realistic approach toward your caregiving role–and your sense of humor has been a critical tool for your survival. Without your sense of humor, you would have given up a long time ago.

Your Keyword: Welcome
–Welcome the joys of your relationship;
–Welcome forgiveness (of yourself, of your caree, of other family members and friends);
–Welcome shared activities.

Your Challenge
To gain a greater understanding of yourself and your caree.

Your Purpose
To gain a better understanding of yourself and your caree. You’ve settled into your role and your routine; now is your opportunity to step back and reflect. The first three stages laid the groundwork for this stage, your period of personal growth.

As a “pragmatic caregiver,” what can you do?
1. Work on finding joy in your relationship with your caree.

The biggest joy-killer are your hands-on duties: bathing, dressing, incontinence care. But these duties bring you together, this is your time together. Add some fun to your hands-on care: sing songs, tell jokes, share goals and dreams.

2. Work on forgiving your caree for past hurts.
Resentment toward past wrong and injustices will make your present caregiving role very difficult. Let go of what was and concentrate on making what is healthy and productive. Forgiving your caree is one of the best ways you take care of yourself.

3. Develop a habit of enjoying shared activities.
Develop a routine of time shared as husband-wife, mother-daughter, father-son rather than as just caregiver and caree. Releasing the roles of caregiver and caree allows you to enjoy each other.

4. Begin to think about your future.
What goals have you yet to achieve? How can you achieve them? How can your caree help you achieve them?

5. An apple a day…
What’s your apple in this stage? What helps you to feel good on a daily basis? You may feel like trying something new. That’s good! You can never have too many apples.

~ Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver ~ Video: Ask, Stage 1

~ Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver ~ Video: Find, Stage 2

~ Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver ~ Video: Receive, Stage 3

~ Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver ~ Video: Welcome, Stage 4

~ Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver ~ Video: Allow, Stage 5

~ Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver ~ Video: Treasure, Stage 6

~ Resources

Note: I have provided The Caregiving Years to be used strictly as a guide. All situations vary. I encourage you to always consult your health care professionals to discuss your individual situation and the best course of action for you and your caree.

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3 Comments on "I Am Still Helping"

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Jun 28, 2012

How do I get in touch with Kathy? My husband has MSA (multiple system atrophy) and the mental delusions are starting in earnest. It is the most devastating symptom-worse than not walking,talking too softly, and severe constipation. I would really like to get a conversation going with those facing this nuerological illness or any like it.

Michelle A. Bracken
Jul 16, 2014

Thank you for this article. I learned that I am somewhere between entrenched and pragmatic and that I need a couple more apples per week. One apple could be attendance at a caregiver support group but I have not found one in my area. I live in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles, CA