What is a caregiver? The roles of a caregiver vary, but in the most basic sense of the word a caregiver is a family member, friend, or neighbor who takes care of a frail or disabled elderly person, or a disabled adult child. If you remind your dad to take his pills or drop groceries off to a grandparent, you are a caregiver. Often family members who care for a loved one, don’t recognize themselves as caregivers. But you are a caregiver, and the care you provide is invaluable to the recipient.
According to WomensHealth.gov most Americans will be informal caregivers at some point during their lives. During any given year, there are more than 44 million Americans (21% of the adult population) who provide unpaid care to an elderly or disabled person 18 years or older.
But most caregivers don’t think of themselves as such. It’s important to give your role as a caregiver the value it deserves, and seek help for the many challenges you will face in that role.
Being a caregiver can be emotionally, physically, and financially straining. There might come a time when the needs of the person you are caring for, are more than you can handle. My family recently experienced this with my dear grandmother who eventually left us last year. It can be difficult to accept that you cannot do it alone, and place the care of a loved one in the hands of professionals. Fortunately there are resources to assist you in finding the help that you need.