Following six months of soul searching and reflection, I have started to decode the frustrating, fear-filled, stressful, and at times anxiety-laden journey in which we find ourselves, supporting and providing care to our loved ones. The family caregivers journey is unique, yet shared by millions like us. This blog is for you, fellow family caregiver. I invite you to join me in navigating the family caregiver journey and uncovering the steps to transforming your chaos into care.
Like many of you, my journey started when I got the call. In my case it was a telephone call. The irony and symbolism is that THE call was a call to action. I was unceremoniously tapped on the shoulder, to step up and instantly step in. Little did i know that, in this moment, I was joining the ranks of millions of others around the world who provide care to their loved ones. With that call, I became a family caregiver.
For the past 15 years, my journey as a family caregiver has been to provide care to older parents, grandparents, and a son on the autism spectrum. Through these caregiving experiences, I have come to understand and appreciate the frustration and fear as well as the joy, sense of relief, and learnings that this roller coaster ride offers in supporting and providing care to my loved ones.
What is the Family Caregiver’s Journey?
I have come to understand that there are four phases of a family caregiver’s journey:
- The Comfort Zone: This is when you feel safe and in control. It is filled with low risk, limited effort needed to provide active care, and low stress.
- …and then, BAM!! A health crisis involving your loved one throws you into chaos.
- The Fear Zone: This is when you face a lot of change and a loss of control. In this zone, you are stressed and worried. You experience fear, indecision, and the direction forward is unclear.
- The Learning Zone: Here, you start to take action and embrace change. You seek answers and try new things to support your loved one. Most importantly, your are actively listening, developing new skills, and focusing on the relationship with your loved one while providing care.
- The Caring Zone: In the caring zone, you have a purpose and a plan. You take focused and responsible action, and use tools to help support and care for your loved one. Here, there is less stress and you are more in control. You are actively participating in your loved one’s circle of care.
From Chaos to Care to Wellbeing
All of this leads to Wellbeing…both for your loved one and for yourself.
It is important to understand that you may travel the phases of, and cycle through, this journey many times. From time to time, you may find yourself stuck in one phase or another. Also, you may face chaos at different points in your journey. I intend to share more about the family caregiver journey in the Chaos to Care blog.
Please comment, share, and Join me in navigating the family caregiver journey and uncovering the steps to transforming our chaos into care.
Sending you courage and love, David.