Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver

You are 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’ve been through the health care system long enough to know that you know your caree’s needs best.

Because you’ve overcome so much, you now get it. It could be that you get what letting go means. It could be that you get it’s not your responsibility to do it all and to be everything to everyone. It could be that you get the importance of using time wisely. It could be that you get that when someone shows you the first time who they are, you believe them. (Perspective courtesy of Maya Angelou.) You’ve earned the wisdom you now wear.

You understand that you are not meant to be superhuman for yourself, for your caree, for your family, in your career. Because you embrace your humanity, you put the hamster wheel in the closet. You no longer chase perfectionism and instead welcome your best, whatever that may be, in any given moment.

You also get the importance of a good laugh. Some family members and health care professionals may wonder about your ability to find humor in situations they find odd. 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 connections with your caree and with others.
–Welcome how you feel about your caregiving experience. Some days, the experience feels good. Some days, it doesn’t. It’s okay and normal to feel both.
–Welcome forgiveness of yourself, of your caree, of other family members and friends.
–Welcome shared activities, even simple ones like laughing together.
–Welcome possibilities for your future.
–Welcome what is and what will be.

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.

Our tools, below, can help you figure out what to welcome. Access more of our Caregiving Wheels.

As a “pragmatic caregiver,” what can you do?

1. Work on finding joy during your connections with your caree.
The biggest joy-killer can be your hands-on duties like bathing, dressing and incontinence care. But these duties bring you together, this is your time together. Add some fun to your hands-on care by singing songs, telling jokes and sharing goals and dreams.

2. Express yourself.
In the earlier stages, the shock of the experience may have left you without words. In this stage, as the shocks no longer surprise you, you can find your words. Say what you need, how you feel and what you want. In addition, consider creative outlets for your emotions like writing, painting and photography. Creativity can heal.

3. Work on forgiving.
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 others, including your caree, your family members, the health care system and your faith, is one of the best ways you take care of yourself.

4. 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 family caregiver and caree allows you to enjoy each other.

5. Begin to think about your future.
What’s your dream? How can put plans in place to create it? If appropriate, how can your caree be a part of your vision? We also can match you with a Certified Caregiving Consultant, who can provide a free 30-minute consult to talk out your vision for your future.

6. Discover a different definition of achievement.
How can you redefine success to reflect who you are now? What’s a new commitment you can make to open up possibilities and opportunities? Perhaps you can spearhead the addition of caregiving support programs in your community or workplace. You also can consider presenting at our caregiving events and conferences to share your insights. If the timing isn’t right for you to pursue opportunities now, begin to dream about and plan for these opportunities so you will be ready when the time is right.

7. Consider becoming an advocate to improve the caregiving experience.
You have an insight into what could change to make the caregiving experience better. Our Certified Caregiving Advocate training helps you tap into what you’d like to change about the caregiving experience. The training then helps you find your messaging to make your caregiving movement happen. Learn more at

8. Add to your caregiving closet and update your Family Emergency Plan and Respite In Place Plan.
Add supplies which and plans which can keep you ready for whatever comes next and which give you a break right where you are.

9. Continue to ask anyone and everyone possible for recommendations. 
Ask about palliative care and hospice benefits during doctor appointments and hospitalizations and when your caree might qualify.  Your commitment to finding what you need will pay off. When it does, receive with gratitude so you can welcome new possibilities.

10. 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™

~ Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver™

~ Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver™

~ Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver™

~ Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver™

~ Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver™

~ Our The Caregiving Years Tool will help you find the answers and solutions right for you.

~ We can match you with a Certified Caregiving Consultant, who can provide a free 30-minute consult. With a CCC on your team, you have a caring professional who’s been through a similar situation who can help you make decisions, develop effective plans and find resources. The CCC also will offer an empathetic ear so you can vent in a safe place.

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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