Stage Three: Heavy Care


You may have been providing care for years to someone whose mental or physical health is deteriorating now at a more rapid rate or, because of something unexpected such as a stroke or accident, you have been thrust suddenly into heavy, hands-on care. Your care receiver requires assistance with personal activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, transferring, walking/mobility, bathing, and dressing.
If the person for whom you are caring has Alzheimer’s or another degenerative disease, you may be providing sixty hours or more of care per week, sometimes round the clock care that includes frequent waking. You may be feeling exhausted and isolated, completely caught up in caregiving tasks, with no life of your own.

Some relatives who were supportive at first may now be suggesting that you put your care recipient in a nursing home. Some friends and family members may continue to visit you and your care receiver; others may not be brave enough, stating that they want to remember the person as he or she used to be. Some may invite you to family reunions or parties but ask you not to bring your care receiver, whose presence may be seen as disruptive or unsettling. Some people who visit may call you later to tell you just how upset they were by the deterioration of your care receiver since their last visit, as if you are at fault because they were uncomfortable. Rather than support, you may feel both pressure. You wonder what you should do now.

  • Your first responsibility must be to care for yourself, doing everything you can to prevent caregiver burnout, illness, and injury. Your ability to continue caregiving and to have a healthy life after caregiving depends on caring for yourself now.
  • Your second responsibility is to protect your care receiver, providing a safe and loving environment. At some point, you may have to consider facility care such as an assisted living facility or nursing home. It is good to be prepare for this possibility ahead of time.

Stage three caregiving is a very intense time. We are going to provide many strategies for preventing caregiver burnout and protecting your care receiver so that you might choose the ones that work for you.

To access the services or programs described in this Handbook, call The Senior Helpline at 1-800-96-ELDER, (1-800-963-5337). For inquiries from outside of the area call 727-217-8111.