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Are You A Light, Middle Or Heavy Weight Family Caregiver?

Written by: Eleanor Silverberg, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Do you know someone who is or are you providing support and care for a parent, spouse, or other close relation? The role of providing support and care comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. In addition to the other responsibilities you have, you may not be consciously aware of how much of your time and energy is consumed in the family caregiving role which can affect your daily coping ability.

Joyful adult daughter with mothwer.

The 3-A Coping Framework that I developed is a means for you to monitor your coping ability with awareness. The following questionnaire incorporates the 3-A components of Acknowledge, Assess, Assist to inform you on the specific details and time spent fulfilling caregiving duties. By completing the questionnaire and reviewing the results from your responses, you are using a tool to raise awareness ‒ Assisting by Acknowledging and Assessing if you are a light, middle or heavy-weight caregiver and if it would be beneficial to consider making some changes and strategizing to make coping with the role easier.

Circle what applies in describing your experience. You may circle MORE THAN ONE for each question:

1. Do you assist in some way with your family member’s or close relation’s household chores?

a.) Cook;

b.) Manage meals;

c.) Clean;

d.) Arrange cleaning service;

e.) Laundry;

f.) Other______

2. Do you assist in some way with your family member’s or close relation’s healthcare?

a.) Arrange medical appointments;

b.) Accompany to appointments;

c.) Medication reminders,

d.) Other_______

3. Do you assist in some way in taking care of a family member or close relation’s finances?

a.) Accompany to the bank;

b.) Pay the bills;

c.) Invest and/or make financial decisions;

d.) Other _____

4. What kind of care does the adult require?

a.) Drive to appointments;

b.) Financial assistance;

c.) Companionship;

d.) Mobility;

e.) Bathing;

f.) Dressing;

g.) Meal prep;

h.) Feeding;

i.) Arranging family members not to be left alone;

j.) Other_______

5. How many average hours a week of assistance do you provide?

a.) 0 – 4;

b.) 5 – 10;

c.) 11 – 15;

d.) 16 -23;

e.) 24-hour care

6. Where does the care recipient live?

a.) Assisted Living or Long-Term Care;

b.) Lives with another close relation;

c.) Lives alone in another city;

d.) Lives alone in same city;

e.) Lives only with you;

f.) Lives with you and others;

g.) Other_______.

7. If living in his or her home in the community, do you have support assisting in providing the care?

a.) Other close relations/friends for emotional support;

b.) Relief from family or friends for 1-5 hours a wk.;

c.) Day Program for 5-7 days a wk.;

d.) Day Program 3-4 days a wk.;

e.) Day Program 1 – 2 days a wk.;

f.) Paid or subsidized support for: i.) 10 hrs + a wk.; ii.) 6-10 hrs a wk.; iii.) 0-5 hrs a wk.

8. What is your family member's or close relations’ health condition?

a.) cognitive/mental health issues, e.g., Alzheimer’s;

b.) mobility issues using a walker, cane, or wheelchair;

c.) heart, stroke, or other physical chronic condition;

d.) Other______

9. How many hours in a 24-hour day on average are you thinking of or concerned about the care recipient?

a.) 0 – 1 hr;

b.) 2 – 3 hrs;

c.) 3 – 4 hrs;

d.) more than 4 hrs.

10. Are you assisting anyone else requiring care including children and teenagers?

a.) Another person requiring care requiring less than 4 hours a week;

b.) Another person requiring more than 4 hours a week

c.) More than one other person requiring care less than 4 hours a week;

d.) More than one other person requiring more than 4 hours a wk

11. Employed outside of the home?

a.) Part-time

b.) Full-time

Results (for your information purposes only)

Following is a guide for acknowledging and assessing the degree of care being provided to determine if you are a light, middle or heavy-weight caregiver:

  1. The more duties you are taking on, the heavier the caregiving.

  2. The more time you are physically spending on the role, the heavier the caregiving.

  3. The more time you are mentally thinking about or worried about the person receiving care, the heavier. Providing care can include mental distress and grief.

  4. The more support you are utilizing (e.g. Family, Paid Help, Day Program), the lighter the caregiving.

  5. Supports make the caregiving lighter; however, if the help (paid or unpaid) is causing distress in any way, then the caregiving is heavier for you. To be considered: There may be anger and frustration that is not directly related to the caregiving but rather stems from the family member(s) requiring care (eg. strained family dynamics, financial issues)

By identifying all that is possibly involved in caregiving, you may acknowledge and assess that the caregiving is lighter than you thought which may be relieving, making it easier. The more duties you are taking on, though, make caregiving heavier. If you assess yourself to be a middle to the heavy-weight caregiver and daily coping is challenging, could it be time to consider assisting options such as researching residences or seeking out support from family members and resources from professionals? You may have heard this before, but worth hearing again – it is a strength, not a weakness to ask for assistance.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Eleanor!


Eleanor Silverberg, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Eleanor Silverberg, founder of Jade Self Development Coaching, is a social worker, author, speaker and grief specialist whose intention is to help adults move forward stronger through diverse life-altering situational losses, applying the innovative 3-A Coping Framework she developed. Her specialty is assisting family caregivers of the chronically ill to cope and prevent burnout. Her mode of practice stands out as she combines existing grief models with conventional and practical strategies, featuring them in her books “Caregiving with Strength” and “Keeping It Together”. She has also created a modified mindfulness program in her book “Mindfulness Exercises for Dementia”. Eleanor holds a BA in Psychology, Master of Social Work, Certification in Bereavement Education, extensive training and practice in Mindfulness and over 20 years of Independent Grief Studies.



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