Middle Age + Caregiving: Three Mind Maps

Middle age is daunting for everyone, especially caregivers.  There are so many moving and complicated parts that can quickly overwhelm the best intentions or the most efficient management skills.  One of the biggest mistakes I see middle age caregivers make over and over again is in overestimating their capacity, control and expectations.  It doesn’t take long until they find out that their assumptions were not aligned with reality and they have become inadvertently a source of their own suffering.

I suggest to caregivers in our support groups that a better approach is to undertake an accurate assessment early on regarding their true capacity, limits of control, realistic expectations and essential personal boundaries.  I point out this will protect them from becoming a martyr of the impossible, while at the same time identifying likely areas where caregiver reinforcements will be needed going forward.   Lastly, I remind them that by securing the perimeter a healthy version of their caregiver role it puts them in a position to embellish their game plan with other coping strategies that fit their values and style.

The three mind maps below are visual aids I created to explain this strategy to my support group colleagues. Together they offer a “big picture” perspective of caregiving in middle age and the assessment approach in an easy to understand format and that they can share with others…

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