Five Types of People

Rosalyn Carter has noted that there are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.

In fact, by age 40 most of us fall into at least two of those categories—which makes the subject broadly of interest. Yet our society—focused as it is on youth and self-realization and mobility—does little to inherently support the role of caregiver.

So there you are, wanting to make sure you do the best for someone you love, often while entering a medical realm about which you know nothing. That’s stressful. And it’s relentless, taking over every spare moment (and many that weren’t spare). Worse, it’s lonely.

You are likely undergoing a roller-coaster of emotions—emotions that are completely foreign. As one man wrote on

“I am a tough guy—ex-drill sergeant, battery commander, race car driver, but am finding this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Lately, I am finding tears running down my face way too often. Some guy in front of me on the road is five mph under the speed limit and I want to smash his face. This is not like me; really it isn't. I am a peaceable man—love dogs, cats and people. Just feeling a bit LOST! Thanks for listening to my vent.”

That’s not a vent. He is lost. His whole world changed with his wife’s diagnosis of cancer—and he has no control over the new one.

He needs to add a fifth kind of person to his list: Being a caregiver to himself. Because without that, he won’t be able to take care of his wife either, the thing he wants most to be able to do.