Caregiver holds hands with someone needing care.

Three Stages I Went Through While Caring for a Caregiver

Kristen Peairs
July 3, 2024
June 28, 2024

You can read my previous post about caring for caregivers here. In it, I discuss what happened in my family to spearhead my mother becoming a caregiver and transforming many of our lives.

Read on to learn the 3 stages I went through while caring for a caregiver.

Overwhelming Expectations

Based on our upbringing and culture, there are always expectations (real or imagined) about what we should be doing to support our loved ones. Two expectations that wreaked havoc in my head/heart were “I should live with my parents to help my mom,” and “I should use all of my healing knowledge to help my dad.” Both of these actions would have required me to give up my career, my time with my husband, and eventually, my own health.

It's important to recognize that acting on the “shoulds” in our head may not be the best for ourselves or anyone else and I’m grateful I knew not to give in.

Offering Strategies

If we can move past the expectations and “shoulds,” we may still feel swamped in guilt and worry so we might then start offering up strategies to support the caregiver. A strategy I offered my mom was the idea of hiring help. In my mind, it made perfect sense. She was tired. My dad needed extra support. Hire someone to do the job. My mom didn’t like the idea and said, “Absolutely Not.” I tried many ways to get her to change her mind and none of them worked. I felt so distraught.

Inviting Inspiration

 Finally, I remembered that I could ask for inspiration from a higher source. My question was, “What’s mine to do to support my mom and dad?” After some prayer and meditation, I received the information I needed. For the remaining seven years of my dad’s life, I regularly drove to my parents’ condo to spend time preparing meals with my dad. My presence was welcomed. My mom felt free to rest and relax. My dad felt happy to be contributing. I felt connected and loved. It was a good fit for all of us. 

For Friends, Relatives, and Colleagues of Caregivers

1. Keep Showing Up

Whether you’re showing up by visiting their home, inviting them for a meal, or calling on the phone, keep showing up. Your presence is valued. Being a caregiver can feel lonely and it’s nice to know you’re remembered and valued.

2. Be Prepared to Listen

Caregivers may need to vent. Ask them about how they are doing or what’s new and then just listen. Avoid providing advice or problem-solving unless you’re asked for that kind of support. For your own self-care, set a time limit for your listening and stick to it.

3. Offer

Offer a meal or time to sit with the one being cared for so the caregiver can have a break.

4. Be Flexible

Within your boundaries, be flexible with time when it comes to deadlines and dates. Unexpected occurrences are normal in a caregiver’s life and they often need some leeway.

Thanks for caring for the caregivers in your life. Your compassion is felt and contributes to a more compassionate world.

Kristen Peairs
Kristen Peairs
Kristen Peairs is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Professional Educator. Throughout her 20-year career, she has worked with many people suffering from a diversity of chronic health conditions. Understanding how food affects the brain and the whole body has been a key factor in the success of her healing strategies. At Nivati, she has researched, written, and filmed over 100 health and wellness videos for their content library. Kristen is currently writing a cookbook for people living with food allergies and intolerances.