Caregiver: What Does It Really Mean?

Marie-2

Caregiver: What Does It Really Mean?

Marie-2

A family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.

There are times that I feel guilty calling myself a caregiver.  I read the stories of what people go through and I think "damn, I have it lucky".  Gramma is able to get up and get around, she's able to cook, she's able to function.  I don't have to clean her up, I don't have to deal with an 87-year-old with the mentality of a child (that might be going too far, but I'm sure you get what I mean).  I really think I'm lucky.

I didn't feel I was a caregiver until the stroke and now that she is recovering (have recovered? do you ever fully recover?) and now that she is nearing where she was before I'm not so sure I'm a caregiver any longer.  I'm not saying that she's 100% better, she just doesn't need my help as much as others do.  There are still little things, like yesterday she mistook the bottle of sun block for the bottle of tartar sauce.  She only realized she had done it when she went to taste the tartar sauce.

When she broke down crying that she had ruined it I have a little moment of panic because she's crying.  My grandmother doesn't break down and cry but since the stroke, she does it more often.  She has issues with her memory in recalling words and she gets so mad and frustrated and in those times the only thing I can think to do is to hold her and tell her it's okay.  No, she didn't ruin lunch.  It was just bread, some lettuce, and fish.  Bread and lettuce can be thrown away and the fish can be washed off.  Think of it this way, at least your tongue won't get sunburned.

I honestly wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh, cry, or hit me with that last comment.  Later she commented that we'll probably laugh about it but I'm not sure I can get the image of her crying, out of my mind.

So what is a caregiver?  Are there levels of caregivers?  Am I a part-time caregiver because I don't need to hold her hand?  Does it make a difference?