Tell Us: Did You Volunteer?


Tell Us: Did You Volunteer?

hand-819279_640I listened to a webinar yesterday during which researchers talked about caregiving research.

During the webinar, a participant spoke about family caregivers who feel trapped by their caregiving experience. She mentioned that they feel much differently about their experiences than those who volunteer to provide care for a family member.

Her word choice--"volunteer"--struck me.

Did I volunteer, I wondered? I stepped in and up because my parents really needed and need help. I certainly wouldn't and couldn't not help. But, volunteering doesn't mean I won't feel trapped or swallowed by caregiving. And, volunteering doesn't protect me from sibling stew or burn-out or frustration or compassion fatigue or stress or worries.

What do you think? Is "volunteer" a word you would associate with your caregiving experience? Share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


\"Volunteer\" is not the word for caregiving that I do. I love Mom dearly, and there is no one else willing or able to monitor her care and general well-being. When my parents were getting sick, no one else stepped up. I asked for help and repeatedly met deafening silence or excuses from most other family members.

Andréa D. Davis

I would not say \"volunteer\" fits here. Sure, I stepped up to do what needed to be done, but I did so only after looking backward and forward in time and realizing I was the only one who *could* (emotionally, physically, mentally, etc.). I might even say that I do it out of a sense of familial obligation. I simply could not watch my parents' health deteriorate so quickly knowing there was something within my power to do that would be of assistance. Caregiving is hard on many levels. The idea of \"volunteering\" to be the sole or even main caregiver doesn't really seem possible in my world view. You just do what needs done.


Volunteer? Doesn't the word itself imply some degree of choice? Maybe volunteer of last resort, or volunteer to do what no one else is willing to do, or volunteer to not just walk away would be more accurate. I volunteered to step in and actually do something constructive when everyone else was doing the headless chicken dance. I volunteered to be the voice of reasonable choices. I volunteered to not stick my head in the sand and hope it figured itself out without me. I volunteered to be who I am, a caring and giving person, which translated into a caregiver.


Volunteer? I find that to be really strange concept all around in terms of caregiving. We had true volunteers from Hospice, unpaid volunteers who would come and sit with the patient (no hands on stuff aloud) for 2 hours per week. They were caring individuals, who opted for a couple hours of giving.\n\nWe made lots of choices about care, but I wouldn't consider any of them volunteering. Do you volunteer to watch a loved one suffer? Volunteer implies to me: no ties, no responsibility, no obligation, something you can drop if you want.

Anthony Zullo

I wouldn't say volunteer for caregiving ...I do because that is what needs to be done.... Can't just walk away and say oh well you figure it out

See more comments