March 2009 Four weeks before Art died
A caregiver, to me, used to be the person who was paid to give care to an aging adult.
It wasn’t until a few years after Art died that I claimed the title for myself. Before then, I was just his wife. I was the wife who had just enough medical education (ex-paramedic) and was curious about the medical procedures and drugs. Other medical professionals often asked, “Are you a doctor?” including doctors who didn’t know me.
In hindsight, some of those “Are you a doctor?” may have been a polite way of saying, “Lady, back off!” :D
Anyway, it wasn’t until the fourth year after his death that I said, “I was my husband’s caregiver.”
I would sometimes interchange the word caretaker. But it always felt off to me. And then, I looked up the definition of the two words.
A caregiver takes care of people.
A caretaker takes care of things, like houses, church grounds, and buildings.
And ever since then, I have tried to set as many people straight as I can.
I gave care to Art. I loved him, and I CARED for him up until his last breath.
In 2020, 53 million Americans are giving unpaid care to an adult over the age of 18. (61% of them are working.)
So next time your employee, coworker, or friend talks about taking care of his wife who has cancer, they are not care-taking…
They are CAREGIVING!
P.S. Caregivers need support too! Buy two copies today. Send a copy to a friend, donate it to a cancer support group, leave it in some random place! Use code LOVE14 for 14%.
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Caregiving in the US 2020, accessed 22, January 2022, https://www.caregiving.org/caregiving-in-the-us-2020/