What Is a Caregiver?

In one single phrase, a caregiver is a Saint.
A caregiver by definition is a person who offers care to another individual, usually an elderly person or someone who is disabled or chronically ill. While the ideal would be to have a professional, such as a nurse, offer such care, the reality is that typically caregivers are concerned family members or friends. They receive no formal training, and no compensation for their work. 

Many caregivers are placed in the role suddenly, without warning, as a parent or loved one becomes ill, is diagnosed with something, or is injured. The individual will usually go from the role of son, daughter, spouse, grandchild, or friend, to that of primary caregiver, spokesperson, advocate, and representative. It can be a big change.

So what exactly is the role of caregiver? What is included in their scope of care? The simplest answer is that they are responsible for everything the loved one does, but let’s get more specific. Caregiver responsibilities usually include, but are not exclusive to, the following:

  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Feeding (or cooking for)
  • Administering medications
  • Driving to and from appointments and doctor’s and healthcare visits
  • Exercising
  • Housekeeping
  • Bill payment
  • Grocery shopping
  • Entertaining
  • Insurance and paperwork, including social security
  • Socialization
  • Finding medical supplies
  • Arranging transportation, or acting as transportation
  • Determining if living accommodations need to be arranged
  • Emotional support
  • Companionship
  • Legal work- Medical Advance Directives, Power of Attorney, Will, Estate Planning
  • Arranging professional needs- Taxes, financial planning, doctors. 

As you can see the caregiver wears many hats, playing whatever role is necessary to insure the care, safety, and health of the person they are responsible for. They often have to speak on their behalf, letting health care professionals know of their symptoms and level of activity, etc. to help determine treatment.

The caregiver must be an active observer and participator in the caree’s life. This can be an overwhelming task, especially as many caregivers are also trying to juggle a personal career, and their own family. Often children who have their own spouse and children of their own find themselves in a position of caring for a parent. This can be a real challenge, and finding balance is not always easy. Thus, in order to manage these responsibilities as well as the rest of their life, it is important for caregivers to learn how to take care of themselves as well by doing the following:

  • Know when to ask for help. And who.
  • Schedule breaks for themselves.
  • Learn what they can about the diagnoses and conditions of the caree. 
  • Find local resources for help and support. 
  • Take advantage of adult-day care, in home care, and other ways to alleviate some of the burden. 
  • Know whom to call about medication and health for the loved one. 
  • Have a team of professionals and other family and friends to help with care. 
A caregiver gives a lot of their time, energy, talent, and selves to offer support to loved ones. Usually without compensation. So one could answer the question, “What is a caregiver?” with a single phrase: A Saint! 

Call us. We're here to help.
Help support this ad free blog by answering several questions about caregiving here. It will take just two minutes.

About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visithttp://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


Post a Comment