Saturday, June 13, 2009

Caregiver Fatigue Timeline

I was given a bad photocopy of this timeline a couple of months ago and finally was able to type up a nicer version. I've used it with several caregivers so far and it's been a great help each time. It's one thing to talk about the importance of self-care. It's another for a caregiver to have visual confirmation of where they're at and to also see what may lie ahead if they're not proactive now. Too often caregivers lose sight of themselves. Their whole world is wrapped around caring for their loved one. While there is great reward in caregiving, it takes a huge toll. I always advise family members to figure out (before they start caregiving!) how they are going to prioritize themselves. It's not asking for the moon. It's figuring out stress management skills, stealing just 15 minutes a day for themselves to read, nap, listen to music, and also lining up respite care through an agency, volunteers, or other family members. If a caregiver can do these things from the beginning, their health and emotional well-being is more likely to stay intact.

Caregiver Fatigue Timeline
Family Caregiver Support Project
Northwest Regional Council/Area Agency on Aging

1-18 Months
• Recognizes (and perhaps struggles with) the differences between providing long-term care (vs. acute care)
• Anxious to provide best possible care
• Manages the house, garden, car, shopping, bill paying, and cooking
• Attends to family relations
• “Keeps up appearances”
• Helps person with dementia through social situations
• Remains optimistic, caring, supportive
• Operates as “superwoman” or “superman”
• Attends to personal care
• If working, spends “vacation” time for caregiving

At 21 Months
• Begins to take medication, usually for sleep/headaches
• It becomes harder and harder to keep on top of things. The loved-one’s personal care needs intensify, adding new duties (for example trips to the doctor, medication management, etc.)
• Some help from family still available
• Takes more time off from work

24-32 months
• Emotional and physical resources drained
• Less and less personal contact with own doctor, dentist, minister, friends
• Experiences feelings of powerlessness
• Caregiving consumes both day and night
• Outside help dwindles away
• If working, not able to attend training foradvancement and/or skips promotions

At 32 Months
• Stress becomes harder to conceal
• Caregiver begins taking tranquilizers
• Begins using medication for musculoskeletal pain
• Sleep is continually disturbed
• Caregiver becomes irritable
• Less and less contact with others
• If working, may scale back further on work hours or responsibilities

By 38 Months
• Caregiver feels unhealthy
• Finds it hard to get up
• Never feels rested
• May have hypertension/colitis
• Has symptoms of chronic fatigue
• Caregiver loses the will to take care of him/herself
• Is unable to manage the household
• Rarely socializes with others
• Feels helpless, guilty, a failure

After 50 Months
• Chronic state of fatigue
• Caregiver is in a state of “unwellness”
• Becomes isolated
• Is unwilling or unable to access resources for information or help

1 comment:

Silverwillow said...

The timeline post is excellent material. I'd love to share that with my team. Great article.