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Define Caregiver – Description and Meaning

How Do You Define Caregiver?

If you provide help to another person in need, you are a caregiver. Caregivers help individuals achieve tasks and functions necessary for daily life that may have, for a number of reasons, become inaccessible to them.

Whether the person being cared for is a friend, family member, community member or even a lovable animal friend, what defines a caregiver is a desire to serve coupled with the nature of the specific duties they perform. Although many caregivers within a family are not paid, several models exist for paid professional, licensed caregiver services.       

“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

― Rosalyn Carter, Former First Lady of the United States

Caregiver Synonyms

When considering what other words are similar in meaning to “caregiver,” and Merriam-Webster include these words among frequently used caregiver synonyms:

  • Guardian
  • Carer 
  • Caretaker 
  • Health Professional 
  • Medical Assistant 
  • Medical Man
  • Primary Care Provider 
  • Nurse 
  • Medical Practitioner 
  • Health Care Provider

Who Does A Personal Caregiver Provide Care For?

Some of the most common recipients of care are individuals dealing with:

  • Challenges the elderly experience with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  • Recovery from a surgical procedure or hospitalization 
  • Chronic illness and terminal illness (hospice caregiver)
  • Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancer 
  • Debilitating injuries

Many who receive care are those who have aged beyond their own ability to independently self-care and are best served with the assistance of a caregiver.

Caregiver Glossary: What Types of Caregivers Exist?

Caregivers come in many different forms and some of the more common types include:

  • ADL Caregiver – providing assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) often including meal prep and eating, bathing, transferring of patient (ex: from chair to a bed), dressing, toileting and other common everyday tasks we all must partake in with regularity.
  • Agency Caregiver – A home care provider hired and managed by an agency that typically works with a network of providers, doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff. Agency caregivers are often licensed, bonded and insured to offer a variety of professional services offering additional protection of criminal background checks and Workers’ Compensation coverage for employees.
  • Animal Caregiver – This typically refers to those caring for animals in need, as opposed to support animals who provide therapy and emotional support or service animals who assist with a specific disability. 
  • At Home Caregiver – providing services at a chosen patient residence and often including medical services known commonly as “home health” services.
  • Autism Caregiver – Providing support for children and adults with autism and often focusing on the further development of social skills and communication.
  • Dementia Caregiver – including those suffering from Alzheimer’s. 
  • Disability Caregiver – covering a wide range of needs including ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis and more.
  • Home Care Caregiver – A variety of services of a non-medical nature provided to those in need which can include hygiene assistance, companionship, medication reminders and more.
  • Home Health Caregiver – Medical care provided in the home or designated residence of a patient. Though it can include non-medical offerings like social services, home health usually involves licensed nurses, doctors and healthcare practitioners performing hospital care duties in the home. 

Caregiver Used in a Sentence

Here’s a common example of how “caregiver” is used in a sentence:

We made the bold move of hiring an in-home caregiver for mom so she can have all of the professional medical care she needs along with compassionate help completing everyday tasks like getting dressed and reminding her to take her medications. 

What Is A Caregiver Responsible For Doing?

Anyone, at any stage of life, can become a caregiver. Being a caregiver means making someone’s life easier, safer, and more comfortable.  Whether the caregiver is a paid professional or simply a family member or loved one, some of the most common responsibilities that come with providing care include:

  • Bathing and hygiene assistance
  • Medications: providing reminders, preparing and administering 
  • Meal preparation and Feeding
  • Light housekeeping
  • Shopping and errands
  • Dementia care
  • Incontinence management
  • Companionship
  • Transferring and Transportation 

Being a Caregiver – What It Really Means

When the challenges of daily life begin to threaten someone’s independence, a caregiver becomes essential to basic functioning and helping someone do what they need to do to “get by.”  When the role of caregiver falls upon at-home caregivers or family members who work (and maybe even have children and additional family to care for), this burden can become very challenging. Caregiver burnout is a very real phenomenon for family and friends taking it all on themselves. 

Professional caregivers are a very popular option that can provide the support needed to supplement the compassion and care many seek to provide for their loved ones. 

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