The Six Caregiving Stages

By Denise M. Brown, Founder of The Caregiving Years Training Academy

When you expect a child, the community (your family, friends, co-workers) rallies around you and your spouse. When you expect your first child, you receive gifts, well wishes and the encouragement that you are entering a wonderful, albeit challenging, chapter in your life. As you prepare to welcome your child, you feel pride at the thought of your role as parent: How you will shape the mind of a youngster, impacting him or her with your wisdom, insights and knowledge.

Now think about a similar life experience but one often on the other end of the spectrum. When you care for a family member or friend, spending the last years together as caregiver and caree, you might feel isolated from the community. Friends, co-workers, even other relatives may not understand your worries, your commitments and your decisions.

Without support, you might find yourself fighting self-doubts, asking yourself, "Why me? Why am I the one to do this?" These self-doubts can erode your ability to handle your caregiving responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Even worse, these self-doubts cloud your ability to understand how important this caregiving journey is -- to your caree, your family, yourself.

That's why I've developed the Six Caregiving Stages. Much like books for expecting parents, the Six Caregiving Stages describes what to expect throughout the journey. Because no journey is completed without wrong turns, unexpected delays and unplanned crises (we'll call these "stumbles"), our map also includes ways to "steady" these stumbles. I first created the concept of staging the caregiving experience in 1997 and continue to revise and tweak the concept to ensure it remains relevant today.

Separated into six stages, The Caregiving Years reflects the increasing intensity of the caregiving role. Within each stage, you'll find a keyword. As you move through the stages, you'll add more keywords which also become your coping strategies. These six keywords become your go-to actions during times of stress, worry and frustration.

By having information about your role as family caregiver, as well as understanding the information needed and actions to take, you can spend more time making this experience meaningful for your caree, your family and yourself.

~ Stage 1: The Expectant Caregiver™

~ Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver™

~ Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver™

~ Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver™

~ Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver™

~ Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver™

~ Our The Caregiving Years Tools, released with our 10th edition of The Caregiving Guide handbook, help you find the answers and solutions right for you.

~ Our Tip Sheets can help:

The Six Stages of Caregiving can only be reproduced, reprinted or presented with the permission of Denise M. Brown, who holds the copyright.

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Check out Denise's 13 books, including The Caregiving Guide, for comfort, support and resources for every day of your caregiving experience.

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