As family caregivers we make decisions every day and every week on care coordination, medical and therapy needs, financial decisions, meal and social activities, and more.

We are constantly assessing and trying to determine the right course of action for our loved one under enormous stress. As caregivers, we are mostly learning as we go on this path and we should reflect on how we are making our decisions – and how our behavior is toward our loved one. What is guiding us in our decision making and our behavior?

Hopefully, it’s our defined values with consideration of our loved one’s values.

When we were children our parents and society helped formed our decision making through teaching us values. Now that we are adults we probably generally know our values but let us re-confirm and write them down to validate what are our values today – and review what we believe our loved one’s values are (if they are unable to articulate them).

Knowing our caregiver code of values can give us strength and assurance when the easy and tougher caregiver decisions are needed to be made. Knowing one’s value is a compass that can guide us on our caregiver path.

We should review our values and challenge ourselves on if we are truly living and making caregiver decisions based off our chosen values and/or our loved one’s.

Sometimes there can be a paralysis in caregiving decision-making either from overload (crisis) or trying to reconcile our own or a family member’s values that may be different from our loved one’s values. Recognize that there may be tension in the family due to having different values.

Of course, values can change as we continue to have experiences (or they can stay the same). Growth and change is different for everyone. But values should be reviewed frequently (every six months is good or when you feel the need).

Developing your Caregiver Code of Values

I recommend that you take time this week (30min to an hour if you can find it) for this exercise.

  1. Review the attachment (below) that has a list of values (add your own if you don’t see ones that resonate with you).
  2. Choose 3 to 7 values that are important to you and your caregiver role.
  3. Reflect on why you believe the values you chose are important to you.
  4. Do you have examples on how the values you chose are guiding your caregiver duties, decisions and your caregiver experience?
  5. If the loved one you are caring for can’t articulate their values – do you believe you know what they are? How are you honoring their values as you care for them?
  6. Try to prioritize your values if you can.
  7. Write up your list and put them in multiple places to remind you (your bedroom, in your wallet, on the fridge, etc.).
  8. Every week review your actions and decisions and see it they matched your values. If so, great. If not, either you need to adjust your decision making or behavior (or your values list may need to be adjusted).

Let me know what you come up with and share it when you’re finished!

Link to values attachment: Caregiver Code of Values List Meg Foster

Developing a caregiver code of values is Spiritual Step 3 of 7 for caregivers which will be reviewed in my upcoming book  7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers™: A Path to Meaning and Hope in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving.

Wishing you Light on your Caregiver Path,
Meg