Caregiving Styles: Which One Are You?

Posted April 11, 2014

Being a caregiver can make us feel like we’re taking on an entirely different identity at times. Part of the role we play as a caregiver is greatly influenced by our context, and part of that depends on who else is helping us care for our loved ones—be that medical professionals or relatives.

Which of the following caregiving styles best describes you?

The Planning Caregiver

The Planning Caregiver tends to look ahead and have a vision for those involved with taking care of someone who requires help or who is ill. At times the planner also willingly takes on the role of the organizer: taking initiative when decisions must be made, bringing key people together, and they have an ongoing awareness of what our loved ones may need in the future.

The Sacrificing Caregiver

While the planner might have the foresight and rational perspective that’s needed to take care of an ill person, the so-called Sacrificer is the one who drops everything for the person who need assistance with her health. The Sacrificer is the ultimate form of leading by example—they wouldn’t ask anyone else to help with a loved one unless they were willing to do the same task or pick up the same responsibility themselves. The Sacrificer is most at risk of burnout, and it’s not uncommon for the Sacrificer to be assisting someone with her health for as much as 30 hours per week.

The Resolving Caregiver

When stress is high, the Resolving Caregiver steps in and brings resolution to the problem. The Resolving Caregiver wants input from all those involved, but they don’t worry about all the possible outcomes or hurting anyone’s feelings while helping carry out discussion that will lead to a consensus among those involved.

The Resolving Caregiver is able to delegate in a fair manner, and they are able to help initiate necessary action across the entire team—in the process, helping to find resolution for problems that inevitably come up.

The Decisive Caregiver

The Decisive Caregiver is best at breaking down complex, emotional, and ambiguous situations and making them clear to all those involved, including the ill person. The Decisive Caregiver can come across as opinionated, or even brash at times, but she genuinely seeks for things to be done properly for the sake of the ill/aging person. To those more heavily involved or emotionally-driven, it can seem hurried in nature, but the Decisive Caregiver brings a necessary sense of urgency and high level perspective to the care management process.

The Oppositional Caregiver

When a change is proposed, the Oppositional Caregiver is quick to point out flaws or any potential problems they see. While the Oppositional Caretaker may seem more like a resister than a supporter in extreme cases, they can help make sure that decisions being made on behalf of an ill person are the right ones and are well thought out. In certain situations, they can hold back necessary decisions or action, or they can lower morale when caregivers are working together to take care of someone.

The Optimistic Caregiver

While caregiving requires a great deal of realism, the Optimistic Caregiver provides energy and a sense of hope when those around her need it most. The Optimistic Caregiver is able to be forward-looking, but she is also able to communicate and relate emotionally with all those involved. And even when difficult decisions must be made, the Optimistic Caregiver is integral in helping show and express encouragement, compassion and love.

The Sole Caregiver

To outsiders, the so-called Sole Caregiver may appear that they are the only person taking care of an ill person. In certain situations, the Sole Caregiver may be someone who is reluctant to ask—or to even receive—outside help from others. While fully dedicated to the health of a loved one, problems can occur if instead of being collaborative with others who want to help, this person (intentionally or unintentionally) does not include others in the care process.

In some situations, the Sole Caregiver can become bitter or resentful of others who don’t offer to help. When taken too far, although Sole Caregivers typically have good intentions, their protective or even dismissive attitude of others can do harm to family/friend dynamics.

The Distant Supporter

The Distant Supporter has some knowledge about the ongoing health status of a loved one, and when she is able, she helps out. Physical distance or work obligations, among other reasons, keep the Distant Supporter from being involved on a day-to-day basis. The Distant Supporter may offer advice to those heavily involved, but it must be done in a way that won’t result in resentment from those executing the majority of the caregiving responsibilities.

Caregiving Isn’t a Sprint…

Most of us are working to match our natural personality types and strengths with how we can best serve and support our loved ones in the long haul. Since so many of us are working with complicated and ever-changing family dynamics, we’re often a combination of the types described.

Which style do you fall under? Knowing your tendencies as a caregiver can help you better copy with stress, as well as work with those around you.