Six StagesBy Denise M. Brown, Founder of

When you expect a child, the community (your family, friends, coworkers) 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, one 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, coworkers, even other relatives may say about your caregiving responsibilities: “I could never do that! Why do you?” Or, the more common response: “Why don’t you just put your mother (or your wife, or your grandfather) in a nursing home? That way you won’t be so stressed out.”

With support like that, no wonder 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 Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Experience. Much like books for expecting parents, The Caregiving Years 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.

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™  ~  Video: Ask, Stage 1

~ Stage 2: The Freshman Caregiver™  ~  Video: Find, Stage 2

~ Stage 3: The Entrenched Caregiver™  ~  Video: Receive, Stage 3

~ Stage 4: The Pragmatic Caregiver™  ~  Video: Welcome, Stage 4

~ Stage 5: The Transitioning Caregiver™  ~  Video: Allow, Stage 5

~ Stage 6: The Godspeed Caregiver™  ~  Video: Treasure, Stage 6

~ Our The Caregiving Years Tools, released with our eighth edition of The Caregiving Years handbook, help you find the answers and solutions right for you. Purchase The Caregiving Years PDF version to complement the tools. You also can purchase the paperback on Amazon by clicking below.

~ Your Tip Sheet: The Caregiving Years, Six Stages

~ Your Tip Sheet: The Caregiving Years, Your Steadies to Continue through The Caregiving Years

~ Resources

~ Read LivHOME’s blog post about The Caregiving Years


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Jennifer Brown
Jennifer Brown

It’s wonderful that so many resources and support are now available for caregivers. That wasn’t the case in my caregiver years. It would have made a huge difference in many ways. Nonetheless, I did “survive”. However, after reading the short article outlining the stages of caregiving, I would like to add that the last stage can be a bit misleading, and it would be most helpful to address the other side of how it sometimes affects some caregivers’ lives. The last stage states that the at the end, the caregiver will be able to go on and live life to… Read more »

Tina Marie
Tina Marie

This is exactly my concern for my own situation. I can relate to every part of this. I recently took over the caregiving for my grandmother because my cousin was doing it and struggling with a drug addiction. Obviously her addiction was the top priority and would often neglect my grandmother’s care. I have 2 Aunts that are POA for my grandmother. My cousin died over the summer in her addiction. Now I have had to quit working. No one calls to find out if there is anything I need. The POA (my aunts) have secured very little resources or… Read more »

Rich C.
Rich C.

Tina – Its tough to read Jennifer’s story – even ten years on. To hear your story unfolding now makes me want to help. My own caregiving journey (completed 2 year ago 9/17) involved quitting work, getting limited help from sibs, and having to figure everything out – home dialysis, home infusion, home care, home hospice – myself. After both of my parents had passed I have become determined to help other caregivers. So I built an App that simplifies record keeping and sharing the care routine with other family members and aides. Also, when the wheels start to come… Read more »

david boyd

I can relate to your conclusion, we do it for love, no matter how difficult, no matter how long.
I care for my wife who has Parkinson’s. despite the difficult moments it must be done,
children have their own lives to live & friends drift away, I have difficulty understanding that.

do not give up, you know you did the right thing.



This article gives the impression that caregiving is only valid in the case that 1) you are keeping your loved on at home with you and/or 2) that your loved one has had a diagonis. My mother is 86 years old. She walks, drives, shops, and takes care of her basic financial responsibilities. BUT, she needs plenty of care! She needs help making decisions, she needs company and a second set of ears when she isn’t well, and now, as she moves from her home to a 3 stage retirement community, she needs pretty much everything handled for her: sale… Read more »


My mother was the most active 86 yr old you ever saw. Did all her own housework, finances, you name it. Then she tried to move her couch. She injured her back, which led to an unreal series of events. She went to hosp, got a GI bleed, had a stroke, then a heart attack. Back & forth to hosp, ER, 2 horrible nursing homes. Now she is with me at home, in Hospice care. This, a year after I retired & made lots of plans, inc things to do with Mother. I am the only living relative, so I… Read more »