The Stages of Caregiving

If you’re a caregiver, you need to be able to recognize the stages of your relationship with a patient where you might need help. Use the seven stages of caregiving we’ve listed below as a guide for looking ahead to moments where you might want to call on extra support or make important caregiving decisions.
Stage 1 — Performing Caregiving Tasks
A family or friend begins helping a patient with routine activities the patient had previously been able to handle without any assistance.
Stage 2 — Self-definition as a Caregiver
An individual sees and identifies himself or herself as a caregiver.
Stage 3 — Performing Personal Care
The patient has become much more dependent on the caregiver, relying on them for help with bathing, dressing, toileting or other aspects of personal care.
Stage 4 — Seeking Assistance and Formal Services
The caregiver is actively looking for support from others in helping them care for the patient.
Stage 5 — Consideration of Nursing Home Placement
The patient’s needs are beyond what the caregiver can provide alone, a situation that can make a caregiver feel overwhelmed. Placing the patient in a nursing home rather than continuing with at-home care becomes an option, and the caregiver reaches out for help in placement.
Stage 6 — Placement of the Patient
Owing to the patient’s increasing needs, at-home care isn’t possible any longer, and he or she is placed in a nursing home or other setting where they can receive the appropriate attention.
Stage 7 — Termination of the Caregiver Role
There are three typical reasons why a caregiver’s role comes to an end, and each of them can be highly emotional:
  • A recovery by the patient
  • Placement in a nursing home or other facility
  • Death of the patient
*Adapted from “Seven Markers in the Caregiving Trajectory,” by Rhonda J.V. Montgomery, Ph.D., director, Gerontology Center, University of Kansas.