Common Characteristics of a Caregiver

  • You’re probably a “primary caregiver,” which means you’re basically in charge of everything that happens to your care receiver.
  • As a primary caregiver, you get little or no help from anyone else. The help that you do get comes from family or friends.
  • If you’re a family caregiver, you provide about 80% of all personal and medically-related care and about 90% of all home-help services.
  • Most likely, you’re caring for your spouse. If you’re not a spouse, you’re probably a son, daughter, or daughter-in-law.
  • You could be anywhere from 21 to 90 years of age. The average age of all caregivers is in the mid-fifties.
  • You’ve possibly had some previous, short-term experience giving care to a friend, family member, or loved one.
  • If you’re an average caregiver, you’re spending four hours a day, seven days a week with your care receiver. If your care receiver is severely impaired, you could be spending over 40 hours a week giving heavy-duty care and be on-call 24 hours a day.
  • If you’re a family caregiver, you’re more than likely employed. That means you have to use a lot of creativity to balance your work and home responsibilities with your caregiving duies.
  • You’re also concerned about your own health. You should be with all the work you have to do!

Why do you do it?

You have many reasons for providing home care. The most frequent reason is love for your friend or family member and a desire to provide care in familiar surroundings. It could be that home care is your only option, because outside care, even if it’s available, is often too expensive. You might also be motivated by a sense of obligation, or concern that no one else can provide the same quality care.

Excerpted from Creative Caregiving by James R. Sherman, Ph.D., Pathway Book, 1994, pp 8-9.

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