Questions to Help Caregivers

By Holly Whiteside,

It is said that the two Chinese characters for “crisis” mean both “danger” and “opportunity”. When a life event like caregiving lands like a bomb, it initially feels more like the danger element. However, by asking the right questions, the derailment can put you on a powerful new path of opportunity. For me at age 43, the bomb was when my mother, who I had been avoiding since I was 14, came to live near me. The quality of my questions were suddenly critical to my emotional survival.

Why Listening Is the Caregiver’s Secret Weapon

As I moved into the terrain of caregiving, the questions that fueled my survival and personal growth evolved from, “To what am I committed?” and “How can I give without giving myself away?” to “What is the source of my energy and peace?” and then “What would be available to me if I opened my heart to my mother?” Those four little questions point to a broad range of experiences. I answered them by applying to myself the life coaching principles that I had been learning and teaching others as a life coach. By the end of my decade with Mom, we had forged a loving relationship.

After Mom died, I asked two questions, “Who am I if I am not a caregiver?” and “Can what I have learned about thriving during caregiving be of some use to others?”

I documented the principles that had kept me sane and tested them out by coaching other caregivers. Then I wrote “The Caregiver’s Compass”, a handbook of simple tools for gaining greater emotional and life balance, with the intent of helping the reader to discover their own positive experience.

20 Questions to Ask Your Parents

So, what are the questions that a mindful caregiver might ask in order to be more peaceful as well as more effective? Here are a few of the more fundamental ones.

Question to Help Find Emotional Balance
Stop Self-Destructive Behavior: Binging, Abuse or Over-indulging
Bringing Out Your Inner Optimist

Questions to Help Mindful Caregivers to Find Emotional Balance originally appeared on

In this one-and-only moment, what are my choices, inner and outer?

Since all we have is the present moment, the choices we make Now cause everything that follows. Everything hangs on the momentary question and its subsequent choice.

What “stories” do I tell myself about caregiving that make it harder?

Our inner stories give us our emotional experience of life, so we’d better make up good ones. Life-serving ones.

Dear Diary: Journaling for Caregivers

What are my strengths and survival habits?

A knee-jerk positive attitude can blind you to the truth. The need to be right can have you miss important learning opportunities. Which survival habits are undermining your effectiveness? Which will help you to succeed?

What am I resisting that I might begin to allow?

Most energy sinks are cause by resisting someone or something. Therefore the more we can accept and allow, the less energy we waste.

When is my helping actually disempowering my Elder/loved one?

Am I trying to fix your loved ones life, or empower her/him?

The two often work at cross purposes.

What are my expectations?

Expectations frequently trip you up. Identify your expectations of caregiving, your family members, and yourself. Whenever possible, consider lowering the bar.

The Lighter Side of Caregiving: Appreciate the Humor

When choosing caregiving, the key word is choose. Fall haphazardly into caregiving, buffeted by memories and emotions, and you will have a rougher trip. But take a step back to return yourself to the present moment and new choices become available. When I first entered caregiving, I packed a well-stocked survival kit, but then life called for a new wayŚnot just new actions but a new way of relating to the whole situation. The questions you ask reveal choices which give you the quality of your caregiving experience.

Finding and Maintaining Your Personal Space
Why Helping Others May Make You Happier
Relaxing: Why Itĺs Hard, and How You Can Learn to Unwind

Questions to Help Mindful Caregivers to Find Emotional Balance originally appeared on


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Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I asked some of these questions when I was taking care of my mom who had Alzheimer's. It was a hard lesson and a learning experience.

Natasha Lopez
Natasha L.3 years ago


Natasha Lopez
Natasha L.3 years ago


Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers3 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago


Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti3 years ago

Good stuff. Thanks.

andrew h.
- -.3 years ago


questions formulated by "access consciousness by rikka zimmerman" may help too -
e.g asking yourself "how can it get any better than this?"

its a series of questions (like the sedona method asks questions to clear blocks, this may help too). its not so much a spiritual practice, therefore spiritual practice is still important to continue too

jayasri amma
jayasri amma3 years ago

thank you

William H. Russell
William Russell3 years ago

Spousal Caregivers are also overlooked, I have been caring for my spouse of over 39 years for over 10 years with her getting constantly worse, it is very heart wrenching to see the love of your life go down hill like this. I would hope there would be more information for spousal caregivers to be able to cope in the future.

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

Ah yes. Very good questions. I ask myself many of these and the answers are sometimes a part of a painful process to understand why my reactions are not what I'd really like them to be.
The 'little ego' has it's buttons pushed often and who can do it better than parents!