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Caregiver Help!

Sunrise at Nauset Beach on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“As does the sun…you too will rise to meet the Day”.

Different Styles of Family Caregiving: Heroes, Martyr’s, Snakes and the Devastated.

About 15 years ago, I wrote an essay on the different styles of Caregiving styles that I found within Family systems. What I was noticing, from working with family members, is that there were particular patterns or styles of care that surfaced. When I first wrote the article, I titled it: Different Styles of Family Caregiving: Heroes, Martyrs and Snakes. What I described was the following; Hero Caregivers, are individuals who see a need to provide the care – and do it. Martyr Caregivers, are individuals who see a need to provide the care – and let everyone know they are doing it. Snake Caregivers, are individuals who see a need to provide the care – and sliver away.

As you can see from the descriptions of the various Caregiving Styles – the first two groups, i.e., the Heroes and Martyrs, although they have different styles, they are present to provide the care, whereas, the Snakes – are absent. However, what I started to realize was that there was another group – that I hadn't identified in the first writing. This group of Caregivers were also not present. However, they weren't present because they were Snakes, they weren't present because they couldn't bear to watch the demise of the person that they loved. The decline and fragility of their family member or friend – was too overwhelming to witness. This group of Caregivers aren't present – because they are “Devastated”. Therefore, I rewrote the article and titled it: Different Styles of Family Caregiving: Heroes, Martyr’s, Snakes and the Devastated.

Detoxing Caregivers: Key Tips for Survival, Strength and Patience.

Although there are different styles and strategies in caregiving – there are also some common overlapping patterns. As indicated earlier: Caregiving is work, Caregiving is exhaustion, Caregiving is powerful, Caregiving is resentment, Caregiving is Love, Caregiving can weaken you, Caregiving can strengthen you. The question is: “ Are there strategies and tips that you can incorporate into your daily life as Caregiver that will help you survive, increase your strength and increase your patience?” I say, Yes. (Interestingly, I asked my wife this same question. She responded by saying: “ I don't have time to do other things – I need to do this job.” It was interesting, however, that she answered this question – as she was returning from the gym and this was just prior to us going out for a walk on the golf course with our Golden Retriever. My response to her, and my statement to you is exactly the same: “ Don't underestimate the simple things you are already doing in your life. You may say that – you don't have time to exhale or relax – but you may already be doing simple things that are working to help you – through this situation. A good recommendation is to take a look at what you are doing – and then let’s see if they can be enhanced and expanded.”)

What works?

Caregiving impacts every part of your Being. The question is why is that some people can take on this role – with relative ease and mastery - while other individuals find it to be an emotional, psychological, financial and spiritual assault. The answers are as unique and varied as the number of individuals that populate this world. What we do know is that: “All behavior occurs within a family system. And when families work – they work. And when families don't work – they don't work”.


“ I despise my siblings. I feel that everyone has run for cover. The whole decision making process has been dumped on me”. (Daughter, age 53, one of four siblings).

“If it wasn't for my Sister – I don't know what I would do. She and her family (Husband and kids) have been a Godsend for my Parents. (Son, age 61, one of two siblings).

More to follow….

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