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Are You a Caregiver? The Many Roles of Being a Caregiver

Updated: Feb 21

If there is an older adult in your life, the answer is most likely “yes”, although it may be “I did in the past” or “not yet.” However, if I had asked whether you consider yourself a caregiver, would you still have answered “yes”?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in any given month nearly one-quarter (22%) of adults over the age of 45 in the United States provide care or assistance to an adult friend or family member and nearly half (47%) of adults will provide care within the year.

The definition of a caregiver is short, but it is not simple - an informal or family caregiver is any unpaid individual involved in assisting others with activities of daily living. We often think of a caregiver as the spouse, partner, or adult child of the older adult. These are the most common scenarios with nearly 50% of family caregivers caring for a parent or parent-in-law and 12% for a spouse or partner. Yet siblings, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbors also play significant roles as caregivers and should be prepared.

Helping around the home Cooking/meal preparation Managing medical appointments Transportation Shopping Cleaning Laundry Managing Medication


Managing finances Personal hygiene Dressing Toileting Mobility Eating Administering medications Blood sugar testing Monitoring vital signs

Caregivers also serve as a critical support system. They spend hours researching care solutions, resources, and benefits as well as responding to emergencies and serving as an integral source of social interaction and emotional support to the older adult.

As caregiving responsibilities increase and get more intense, caregivers can be faced with significant changes in their lives. As more time is spent on caregiving tasks, caregivers may experience faltering personal relationships, their own health being neglected, a decline in work performance, or financial challenges.

Even a few hours of caregiving each week can disrupt normal routines and relationships and over time, the physical and emotional stressors associated with caregiving only add up. This is why it is so important for caregivers to get support, no matter where they are in their caregiving journey. Proactively learning about resources and benefits and developing a care plan can lessen the stress of caregiving during a crisis. No matter how involved you are in the day-to-day care of an older adult, Mellie can help you prepare for your role as a caregiver.

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