As Long as You Help, You Can Call Me Chopped Liver


As Long as You Help, You Can Call Me Chopped Liver

quotes-729173_640We all agree that It's hard to care for a family member or friend. We all know that affordable, accessible and appropriate help can be difficult to find.

We need help. About 40% of our U.S. adult population could use help. And, yet, I wonder what percentage actually receive help, either from their communities, their families, their employers.

I just read an article this morning with a great headline, "We Are Not Caring for Our Family Caregivers." The author makes a great case for why the caregiving experience has become so overwhelming and stressful. She calls for more attention to the caregiving situation and more help for family caregivers.

Here's my beef with the article:

  • The author doesn't give specific ways our communities, our families and our employers can help the primary family caregiver;

  • The author focuses on semantics--that we need to stop using the term "informal" caregiver.

When we talk about the problems family caregivers face, we must present ideas for solutions. Change comes from ideas, from the possibility of solutions, from the sharing of what could work. We need to write about solutions because we never which reader has the resources to turn the talk of solutions into a reality.

And, we must stop worrying about semantics. I'm still aggravated that the debate continues about whether or not family caregivers identify as "caregivers." I'm getting just as frustrated that pundits keep talking about eliminating the term "informal caregiver." Who cares about the terms! We know family caregivers live in our communities, work in our businesses, vote in our elections. Let's just create programs and services that help. We're past the point of arguing about word choice. Create a program that carees want to use, that saves family caregivers time, money and sanity and you've hit a home run. When family caregivers find what helps, they'll tell others. And, honestly, they're not worrying about the words. They're grateful for the solution.

In her post today, Sharon writes about her experiences wearing our "I'm a Family Caregiver; What's Your Superpower?" t-shirt. Strangers approach her to tell her their stories of caregiving. On April 17, when we wore green to be seen, Sharon received a hug from a stranger because of her t-shirt. While the experts worry about word choice, family caregivers share support with each other through the simple act of wearing a t-shirt.

The focus on semantics puts the attention on a problem that isn't relevant. Let's keep the focus on the stories of family caregivers in need. Let's keep the spotlight on programs and services that could work if only they received the proper funding.

Honestly, I don't care what you call what I do. Just help me help my parents. Just help me get around town with them so that they enjoy their favorite restaurants and concerts and plays. Just help me keep them out of the hospital and at home. Just help me get them the care they need when they need it. Just help me feel good about the decisions and choices I have to make.

If you can help me feel successful so that I have few regrets after my parents die, I'll answer to "chopped liver."

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Linda this is very insightful...\"What people need to understand is that we ALL become caregivers to someone at some point in our lives. Parents to children, children to parents, neighbors to neighbors, friends to friends. Perhaps, like me, they don’t recognize what they are until someone tells them what they’re doing.\"


I agree, Denise. Funny, though -- as an historian, I was taken aback by Emily's casual remark, \"This is a huge shift from the old days...\" when she was talking about short hospital stays in the Lynn Friss Feinberg commentary. I don't know, really, if Emily wrote that or if Lynn said it. \r\n\r\nIn the old days? In the old days, sick people were gathered in wards with few trained nurses (probably informal caregivers -- hahaha) to watch over them. In the old days, people would beg from door to door for sustenance when they couldn't work because of their illness. In the very old days, some nomadic cultures would leave their elderly behind if they couldn't keep up with the tribe.\r\n\r\nWe're really fortunate to have the resources that we do have in many cases today -- for myself, I knew more than the home health care, hospital, and hospice nurses did when it came to caring for my mother. Everything I learned was piecemeal from doctors, and I added to my knowledge from articles and videos on the Internet. If I had become part of a caregiving group such as this one while I was becoming a caregiver, my caregiving life would have been much richer.\r\n\r\nWhat people need to understand is that we ALL become caregivers to someone at some point in our lives. Parents to children, children to parents, neighbors to neighbors, friends to friends. Perhaps, like me, they don't recognize what they are until someone tells them what they're doing. So, even though this article is a mess in many respects and I agree with your assessment, it has become part and parcel of getting that word out about caregiving. For that, I approve.


I just established myself with two new doctors and told both of them I was a full-time caregiver. Both serve very aging populations. One didn't comment and the other was worried about my husband not appreciating the arrangement from so far away. Nothing about me!

Judith Henry

Denise, \r\nBeautifully said. I just read the same article on Next Avenue and had similar thoughts. The post offered no constructive help or suggestions. As for the semantics, agreed. You can call me Ray or Jay, just don't call me when it's too late to be of help. Thanks for a great piece of writing and I'm honored to share it!