How Would You Define "Family Caregiver?"


How Would You Define "Family Caregiver?"

SurveyIconIn July, I wrote a commentary entitled "If There's So Many of You, Why Is Caregiving Such a Lonely Experience?"

I shared that recent research released by Pew Research Center found that about 39% of U. S. adults–up from 30% in 2010–care for an adult or child with significant health issues. In other words, two in every five individuals are family caregivers.

I wondered why, given these statistics, caregiving seems like such a lonely experience. I also wrote:
I have two brothers and two sisters. When our parents need care, I would imagine each will tell a researcher that they are a family caregiver. So, that number (five of us are family caregivers) skews the statistic. So, of those 39%, how many care for the same caree? Are we double-counting caregiving experiences? Should researchers be asking who, of all those involved in a caregiving experience, is the primary family caregiver?

The discussion continued in our comments section.Pegi (@worriedwife) wrote:
I firmly believe the friends and family who take the time to call or stop by to visit are invaluable, but are they caregivers? I have actually been a ‘caregiver’ to my husband since 2002 to varying degrees, increasing as needed, ie. keeping track of meds, doc appts etc. But up until the spinal cord surgery, never considered myself one. Since it became 24/7, it's been a whole new ballgame.

Susannah Fox, the leader researcher in the Pew report, weighed in last week on your comments. She wrote:
"I agree that the next step should be to capture, somehow, the degree or depth of commitment by a caregiver. How would you do that? What kinds of questions would capture your experience, either as a primary or secondary caregiver?"

How do you differentiate between a primary family and a secondary family caregiver? If you met an individual who said, "I a family caregiver," what questions would you ask to better understand whether they are a primary or second family caregiver?

Please share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

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