Caring Conversations: Who is a Caregiver?

Pauline Coderre

Caring Conversations: Who is a Caregiver?

Pauline Coderre
Who is a caregiver?

A caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional, or practical support to a loved one who is sick, disabled, or otherwise unable to fully care for themselves. If you’ve recently become a caregiver – or will soon become one – you might feel overwhelmed by emotions. You might be nervous or unsure about your responsibilities. You may also wonder what exactly caregiving is and what your new role entails.

When people think of caregiving, they might first think of an adult child tending to an elderly parent. Or a new parent caring for his or her baby. But caregiving relationships take many other forms, too. One spouse or partner may care for the other. Cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, or friends can be caregivers for loved ones of any age. Regardless of what the relationship looks like, the intention is the same: to provide physical and emotional support.

What exactly do caregivers do? They might help with any of the following:

  • Running errands, such as picking up groceries or going to the pharmacy

  • Cleaning up around the house or yard

  • Working with your loved one’s healthcare team on behalf of or along with them

  • Providing transportation to and from appointments or errands

  • Helping with meals or mealtimes

  • Assisting with basic care, such as bathing and dressing

  • Providing companionship – simply listening to, talking with, or sitting with a loved one


Your own caregiving journey may involve helping with other tasks, too, such as making legal or financial decisions, serving as a point of contact for other friends and family members, and more.

Even if you aren’t a caregiver yourself, you may have a friend or family member who is. They seem especially busy or overwhelmed. Sometimes, caregivers are preoccupied with helping their loved one and may not be taking time to care for themselves. You might offer to bring over a meal, run errands, watch their children for an afternoon, or take their dog for a walk.

Lilly for Better Health® offers more suggestions for how to help care for a caregiver.

This is the third of a ten-part Caring Conversation blog series that provides caregivers with inspiration, resources, and useful tips. Caring Conversation blogs are produced through a partnership with Lilly for Better Health.

Other posts in the series:

Caring Conversations: A Lilly for Better Health and Caregiving.com Partnership

Caring Conversations: Caregiver Loneliness During the Holidays

Caring Conversations: How to talk with family about caregiving

Caring Conversations: 2016 tax tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Self-care tips for caregivers

Caring Conversations: Building A Supportive Caregiving Community

Caring Conversations: How To Help A Caregiver

Caring Conversations: How To Advocate For The Person You Care For

Caring Conversations: A Caregiver's Guide To Elder Law

Lilly for Better Health is also having Caring Conversations with Joy’s House. You can listen to the first and second installments online.  

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Lillie Fuller

I think a course should be taught in school, like an elective, with so many Family Caregivers I'd think the class would be well sought out.