What is a Caregiver?

Image courtesy of AARP. Click the image to visit their website.
Image courtesy of AARP. Click the image to visit their website.

A caregiver is a person who provides emotional and or physical support to an ill, disabled or elderly family member, loved one.

The following are definitions of various types of caregivers

Primary Caregiver

The care recipient depends on this caregiver for regular assistance with basic daily tasks. The caregiver assists in making decisions that directly affect the care recipient and may act as the elder’s representative in given situations.

Secondary Caregiver

 These caregivers provide additional assistance to the primary caregiver and serve as a back-up

Working Caregiver:

The caregiver holds a part-time or full-time job, in addition to providing the care recipient with emotional and/or physical support.        

Occasional Caregiver

The caregiver provides assistance on an irregular basis.

Grandparent as a Caregiver

 The elder, age 55 and older has taken on the responsibility of raising a grandchild under 18 years of age or a grandchild over 18 years of age who is affected by mental retardation or has developmental disabilities or any illness that makes them unable to take care of themselves.

Long Distance Caregiver

Is a caregiver that may live in another city or state. Typically the caregiver lives 50 + miles or more from the care recipient. A long distance caregiver may depend on others to assist in caring for the care recipient but still is involved it the coordination of their care.

  • 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.
    [The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.]
  • 52 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness.
    [Coughlin, J., (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management, Vol. 2; Issue 1]
  • 43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone 50+ years of age and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
    [Alzheimer’s Association, 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s and Dementia , Vol.7, Issue 2.]