Five Caregiving Priorities: Knowing What’s Important

Caregiving Priorities

The establishment of caregiving priorities may be one of the most important elements in providing care, yet, it’s an exercise often neglected. Your involvement as a caregiver may be continuous, providing physical and emotional care, or sporadic and limited to conversations ranging from pleasantries to final good-byes. Regardless of the range of your activities, you’ll need to prioritize them.

Caregiving is such as dynamic process new activities may be required before old ones are learned.

A client whose husband had lung cancer didn’t have time to understand how to administer oxygen before her husband began having mobility issues. How do you develop caregiving priorities? One mistake is lumping everything into one priority list. That’s like mixing apples and oranges. A better approach is to create priority categories and fill them with items before they are needed. Below are five useful caregiving priorities. No matter how thorough your efforts, there will be situations you can’t anticipate.

A Loved One’s Physical Needs

Your primary responsibility is the survival of your loved one. Comfort is secondary. You may face situations were you will be required to ask your loved one to do something that is uncomfortable but necessary for his survival. A physician told a client whose husband had congestive heart failure his water intake had to be limited. She had the unpleasant task of enforcing a reduced water goal and explaining to her husband being thirsty was the price he would have to pay for increasing the length of time he lived.

A Loved One’s Psychological Needs

A person who is cared for can undergo the difficult transition of moving from independence to dependence. A Fortune 500 executive who had a stroke that impaired his ability to communicate would become furious when his wife ordered for him in a restaurant. Knowing her husband needed to feel control over his life led her to structure restaurant visits, so it was possible for him to communicate his wishes to the waiter.

Your Physical Needs

Caregiving responsibilities can be overwhelming, especially when there is little or no caregiving support. If you become ill, your viability as a caregiver is impaired. Think about what you need to do to remain physically well enough to care for your loved one.

Your Emotional Needs

There are few activities so demanding as caregiving. You are placing your emotional needs below that of your loved one. When you subvert your emotional needs for your loved one for an extended period, there is a possibility you may become resentful regardless of the love you feel towards her. Don’t feel guilty taking time for yourself to replenish your ability to serve.

Family and Friends Needs

It’s easy to forget the needs of family and friends when balanced against a loved one’s needs, yet everything is connected. A caregiver needed to balance the need for family spending time with his wife with the wife’s need for rest. 

The Takeaway

Caregiving priorities are important to establish BEFORE they are needed. They will become guidelines for how you will spend your time. The items in each of the five areas can change based on caregiving requirements 

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