Caregiver vs. Patient Time

Updated: May 3, 2018


Whether you became a voluntary caregiver for a child, spouse or parent that fell terminally ill, differences in time-perception can spin into a tornado of chaos. With this article I want to share tips on how to embrace and befriend time.


It is important for the caregiver to acknowledge the patient’s point of view. When diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, the reality of death kicks in. This information might take some time to be integrated and dealt with, but usually the body acts as a reminder where the patient loses the ability to continue activities in a regular, known way.

Due to the effect of medication symptoms can be suppressed and bring temporary relief, but can also cause the patient to sleep for long hours. Night becomes day and day becomes night, almost like time doesn’t exists between the walls of the room.


Snack times and meals depend largely on their condition and can change by the hour. The patient might tend to refrain from eating or in some cases develop obese behaviour often triggered by side-effects of medication, habits and/or functions shutting down. Life-expectancy is based on averages and, for example a nurturing environment can prolong the date of passing, where the patient’s emotional well-being spikes.


Like in the case of a natural birth, the actual time and date are unknown until the baby gives the first cry. The time and date of death is also not to know. Many patients will have relapses, but recover from what looked like the end. Every patient has the right to journey until time comes to pass on.


From the caregiver’s point of view time is of essence, days and nights have specific amounts of hours.


In many instances, the caregiver signed up to take care of the patient, having a set time-frame-expectation in mind. In order to stay on top of the demanding lifestyle, efficient time-management is called for.


Meals are planned and served on time, so are bath time and routine tasks. Replanning and adjusting schedules on a daily basis can be daunting. Feelings that the timely passing on of a patient will allow the caregiver to return to a normal lifestyle is not unheard of. The reality is that the caregiver has only a fixed amount of hours in a day.


Not only do the family members who are in good health continue with their lives, they also expect the same from the caregiver. Affectionate attempts to rescue the caregiver can be experienced as yet another claim on the caregiver’s limited or depleted energy.


When the patient passes on, the caregiver may wish to turn back the clock, since the void caused after being absorbed by serving might be overwhelming.


How can the patient and caregiver set the clock to be the same?

  • Trust and respect each other’s process, accept you are in different time-zones of life.

  • Gain awareness that the patient’s body is preparing for departure,in contrast the caregiver is investing in the future.

  • Acknowledge that the caregiver first and foremost care for their own personal needs.

  • Bless the patient with patience, not rushing their journey towards this earthly end.

  • Allow yourself times away from the patient, regardless if you are not there in the last moments.

  • Accept the help of other caregivers.

  • Use guided journaling to accompany you through this opportunity to walk alongside a person journeying towards the end of life, where body and time collapse into a timeless energy.


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