The Two Types of Family Caregivers

Megan Ray  |  July 26, 2011

Whether you're visiting Dad on the weekends to check up on him or a parent is living in your home, every family's caregiving situation is a little different. However, while the exact circumstances are unique, the responsibilities of a caregiver can generally fall into some familiar categories.

Naples Daily News recently shared the two different types of caregiving - the "sneak-up mode" and "crisis mode."

When the duties sneak up on a family, it's a gradual process that can eventually lead to a senior transitioning into assisted living. In many cases, caregivers are unaware that parents are becoming more dependent on their efforts. Carol Bursack, the author of the article, shared her own experience.

"I can clearly remember the day when I finally woke up to the fact that I had a full-time job as a caregiver, even though, technically, I wasn't working at the time. Had I had more family caregivers to communicate with, I may have realized earlier how much my caregiver role had slowly overtaken my life."

In the case of a crisis mode, this happens when a medical emergency incapacitates a loved one and makes them suddenly unable to live independently. Bursack writes that these caregivers "hit the graduate level of caregiving before they even have a chance to do undergraduate study."

Sometimes, these responsibilities can last for years and result in chronic stress. One survey revealed that 69 percent of family caregivers said that their duty toward a loved one was their number one source of stress.

While it's often easy to start sacrificing your own life goals - and health - for the sake of an elderly parent or spouse, it's important to take care of yourself, as well. Bursack states in the Naples Daily News that one of the most important things a caregiver can do is set "healthy emotional boundaries." These can make it easier to outline your own needs while still being conscious of a loved one's.

Additionally, caregivers should consider reaching out to support groups so they can establish a network of friends to assist them. It may be wise to consider talking to a care recipient about moving into an independent living community as well, where he or she will have more access to healthcare professionals who can oversee their comfort and safety.