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Decision Making

Monday June 1, 2020

A sign leading two ways - Decision Making for Caregivers

Caregivers are required make an overwhelming number of decisions every day – both for yourself and the person you are caring for. And some of those decisions are not easy to make. How do you deal with difficult decisions? What do you do when you are experiencing decision-making overload?

Here are some things to remember when decision making starts to weigh you down:

Don’t put off making a decision due to fear.

Uncertainty is scary. It’s hard to choose when we aren’t exactly sure what the outcome will be. The fear of making the wrong decision can paralyze us. But putting off a decision is still making a choice to do nothing and let things go as is.

Seek advice.

Ask someone you trust and who supports you to share his or her view of the situation. That may be a family member, friend, or another caregiver. If you are having trouble finding someone, let us know. We can connect you with another caregiver who has experienced a similar situation. You can also seek guidance from a professional, such as a social worker, geriatric care manager, nurse, or physician. Getting advice from others will help you weigh your options and see things from a different perspective.

Do your research.

An informed caregiver is an empowered caregiver. If you are looking at memory care for your loved one, research facilities – look online, go visit, ask around. If you need to decide between 2 different medical treatments for your loved one, ask the physician questions and research online. Dig in, so you are informed. There may be more options than you realized.

Honor your loved one’s wishes.

Make decisions based on what your loved one would have wanted. You don’t have to share those views in order to honor his or her wishes. Think back to past conversations. Has your loved one ever expressed views on feeding tubes, CPR, aggressive treatments, etc.? If not, think about what decision would make the most sense based on the way he or she has lived.

Forgive yourself. You will make mistakes.

We all make mistakes. You will handle situations wrong. You will make choices you regret. But don’t let those mistakes cripple you. Hindsight is 20/20. We can look back on previous choices and know the path we should have taken, but this isn’t how decisions are made. Make the best decision based on what you know now. If you start feeling down on yourself for making the “wrong” choice, give yourself a break and know you made the best decision you could at that time. Learn. Don’t linger on mistakes.

Consider the implications for you.

Your decisions don’t just affect your loved one. They affect you too. You are an important part of the equation. How will this decision affect you? Will this create more work for you? Can you take on more? Are you physically able to handle it? You must consider yourself when making decisions. Be honest with yourself about what you can handle and how much responsibility you will be taking on with each decision. You are not being selfish. You are considering your own well-being – for the good of your loved one, you, and everyone else in your circle.


Once you have gathered advice, done the research, and thought through the possibilities, make the decision. Give it a real shot and then re-evaluate. If you decide on a course of treatment and it doesn’t work, you can change your mind. If you move your loved one into a residential care facility and the first 24 hours are rough, don’t give in yet. It takes time to settle in. Listen to the professionals and give your loved one a chance to adjust. If things don’t work out with time, you can re-evaluate and make another choice. For caregivers, there are very few decisions that can’t be undone.