Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Caregiver Wednesday- What is a caregiver?

Are you a caregiver?

Many of you might answer negatively, because you don't provide hands-on care, or get paid to give care. You don't live with someone who needs help with the activities of daily living, and you aren't related to the person needing care. That must mean you aren't a caregiver.

Google, Wikipedia and several other dictionaries would agree with you. They all talk of caregivers, paid or unpaid, as those who give hands-on care.

I paint this canvas with a much wider brush. Here is the Peachman Stewart definition.

A caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional or spiritual care (or any combination) to someone who needs that care to maintain quality of life.

For the sake of our discussions, we are going to focus on older people. Every mother is a caregiver, and the wonderful people who care for children, teens and adults with disabilites are as well. Medical people of all kinds--the list goes on. For our purposes, I am focusing on caregivers of the elderly, especially (although not exclusively) those dealthing with Alzheimer's Disease.

So, I ask again--are you a caregiver?

Do you shovel the walk, shop or take shopping, phone to cheer up and check on an elderly person?

Are you the wife/sister/daughter/son/cousin/friend etc. of someone with Alzheimer's?

Do you sometimes worry about your loved one?

Do you fear for their future?

Do you visit them in hosptial, their home or long term care and look for ways to give them joy?

Do you sometimes leave them and cry?

There are many more questions I could ask, but if you answered "yes" to even one of these, you are a caregiver. Probably you didn't sign up for this, and there may be times when you wonder if you can go on. If you are a caregiver, the one area you have in common with all other caregivers, is that you need support. You can't do this alone.

I hope these "Caregiver Wednesday" posts will be another weapon in your arsenal of coping mechanisma. Feel free to comment on the blog, as it will be a way for you to connect with others who are dealing with the same challenges.

I believe keeping your sense of humour is key to surviving in the caregiver role, so let me end with this. One of the pages I used when researching the definition of caregiver, ended with a list of words that rhymed with caregiver. (What that has to do with anything, I don't know.) One of them was chopped liver. Chopped liver?

May you feel blessed in your caregiver role today, and never feel like chopped liver.


  1. I am a long time caregiver. My brother is multiply handicapped, born when I was ten. I still care for him. I cared for my mom until her death. Then my husband's lengthy illness and death in 2007. Now his mom, 95-years, lives with me. I like your caption: What Am I Chopped Liver?. Mine is: I Live To Be Wrong. That's my current role.... "Marjorie why did you take my hairdryer?" Me: "You mean the one from the 50's with the hood? You told me to throw it out." Reply: "I wouldn't do're wrong. Please find it." It's a journey, for sure. Sometimes I can't breath. But God has been sooooo faithful. I really can't complain.

  2. Bless you, Marji. I know that feeling exactly! It is never fruitful to argue with or correct someone with dementa because you are always wrong! I hope you have a strong support system, and people you can talk to, as that is one of the keys to survival. Also, a sense of humour is invaluable.