The Caregiving Years: An Introduction


The Caregiving Years: An Introduction

Six Stages By 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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Jackie Ann

This is awesome! I haven't found this one before. Thank you again for the great resources.


Hi Barbara--The Christopher Reeve Foundation has a mentor program for persons with a spinal card injury as well as for the family members who provide care. You can request a mentor here:\n\nYou can request a mentor for yourself and a different mentor for your son. The program looks great--please let us know what happens.

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. \nMy cousin died over the summer in her addiction. Now I have had to quit working. \nNo one calls to find out if there is anything I need. \nThe POA (my aunts) have secured very little resources or financial stability for grandmother and as a result I have had to delve into the world of geriatric care. I am grateful for this experience and feel that it is providing me with valuable skills that I need. I don't regret or resent my current situation. I just don't understand how people can completely ignore what is going on, what is required and the least they can do. \nI am trying to use this time to either complete my degree work online or become knowledgeable enough to become a geriatric consultant for families. \nIf anyone has advice on how to get families to cooperate and volunteer to contribute to my grandmother's well being.....or if you have any links or advice about becoming a consultant.... I would love feedback. \nThank you for sharing your story!!


Hi Vicky--You are absolutely correct. Caregiving is an experience about emotions not about location. That's why a comment like \"“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\"--doesn't make any sense. Caregiving is exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating. The six stages helps manage the emotions (the guilt, the worry) and the stress of the experience, regardless of where the experience happens.


Hi--Thanks so much for your feedback.\r\n\r\nOne of the goals of The Caregiving Years concept is to help family caregivers avoid a really tough transition in their lives after caregiving ends. The concept offers coping strategies and techniques family caregivers can use now to make today better which will make the tomorrows easier. Caregiving includes difficult days as does life after caregiving. I hope the coping strategies I suggest help.