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The Ribbon - Care for Caregivers

"How do you define a Caregiver?"


How do you define the term "caregiver" in less than a thousand words? As a parent "caregiver" for 17 years of a child with severe handicaps and for one year of a mother with Alz. (now in a nursing home), I have to say it is a title which deserves more respect than it gets!

A caregiver gives of oneself to assure that the person in need receives the necessary care to carry on his or her life safely and with dignity.
A caregiver sees to it that the basic needs of food, clothing, cleanliness and shelter are met by the person with need.
A caregiver must also know how to meet that person's emotional needs without becoming co-dependent.
A caregiver never loses sight of his/her own needs and understands that in order to care for a loved one, you must also care for yourself.
I could probably think of a few hundred more definitions, but I'm trying to keep this brief.

Thanks for your wonderful, supportive newsletter.


The term "child care" has been accepted. The only difference in "child care" and "caregiver" is the age of the person to whom the care is given.

A caregiver is a person that an adult needing care is dependant upon for his/her safety. Without that caregiver, the quality of life for the adult needing care would be diminished or endangered.

A caregiver's tasks begin in the morning. First we check to make sure the "adult needing care" is alive. Next any help with bathing, dressing, hair styling, and makeup is given.

Now for breakfast, even if the ANC can prepare his own coffee & toast, the caregiver has to be close in case of spills or fire. Sometimes & most times, the caregiver needs to prepare the food and sometimes feed the ANC. After that, cleaning the dishes & the ANC comes in. One needs to make sure the ANC is brushing his teeth (even tho my mom does NOT floss--no matter what!). When they get their partials stuck, it's fun to try to take someone elses teeth out! You also have to be sure they are properly cleaning themselves after showers, bowel movements.

Next seeing to daily activities so the ANC has a life. Taking them out or involving them in an activity at home to make them feel successful and/or needed/loved.

There's always lunch & supper. Same as breakfast, just different times of day.

Don't forget the manicures & pedicures, the ANC cannot do these anymore & I have several foot dr bills to prove it.

The ANC needs help with washing clothes, vacuuming, dusting, changing beds, arranging closets, arranging drawers, putting up towels, etc. Of course, the ANC may need these things done for them instead of just help.

A child can operate a tv and a vcr. An ANC cannot. An ANC cannot learn new things if they have short term memory lose.

At night, the floor needs to be picked up so the ANC doesn't fall. The bathrooms need to be kept clean by the caregiver because the ANC cannot clean thoroughly any more.

I had monitors installed so I can listen at night or any time i feel she might have a problem. Makes nights interesting since my mom snores.

I keep her checkbook. Sometimes I have to make out the check and have her sign them, which takes 3 times as long as it would if I just did it myself. Have to keep her interested & the mind active. Other times, I have to completely pay bills because she is not capable.

Taking an ANC out also makes things interesting. With a child, you have a stroller & a diaper bag. With an ANC I have a walker--later a wheelchair, and a bag with a change of clothes, bandaids--because they somehow always need one, ice to put on abrasions, ice packs for the ice, and ointment for abrasions or dry skin. Only difference is the bag is bigger. Also need plastic bags or protection for car seats in case of incontinence.

A caregiver is a person that an adult needing care is dependant upon for his/her safety.


Hello, all..
In response to the request for definitions of a Caregiver, here is a site on that topic specifically. I particularly embrace the "labor of love" definition. -- Who Are The Alzheimer's Caregivers?

My own definition:
The Alzheimer's Caregiver:
Pre-requisites: (* If you want this choice position...*)
Endless patience to cajole your loved one into cooperating with little necessities of daily living, like getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, getting in and out of the car, brushing the teeth, eating, dressing, interacting with her/his environment.
More Endless patience for dealing with Social Security, the bank, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Services, the hospital, homecare helpers, adult daycare.
More Endless patience to endure the thoughtless and insensitive remarks and false guidance from those only moderately informed about the disease.
Loving, caring and nurturing of a loved one so confused by the disease process that their behavior at any given moment is completely unpredictable; for example wandering away, going door to door to ask where her/his mother is, trying to pay for lunch with a soiled Depends, managing to order a glass of wine by holding up one finger and saying the word "same", calling a daughter "Mommy", Debi, Audrey, Frank or Howard, resenting the caregiver being on the telephone and removing all clothing as a consequence, finding a pair of scissors and cutting up all of her/his clothing, talking for hours with the mirror.
Loving, caring and nurturing of a loved one that can no longer do a single thing for her/his self; feeding, bathing and dressing take an incredible amount of time, patience and energy.
Continuing to reach out to a loved one that is rarely responsive, knowing that every now and again you will see a shining, glowing expression and response that reminds you that YOU do make difference.

: ) Debi Owens

Hello, again, all..
I just wanted to share another great Caregiving website I came across.

Caregiver Network


What is a Caregiver?

I was my Father's caregiver until he passed away one month ago. I gave my Father all the love I could. I watched out for his well-being. And I tried my darnest to do what HE would have wanted me to do for him. My Father died of heart failure, complications of Alzheimer Disease on October 29, 1998 at the age of 74. On that day, my life was changed again. One of the other times my life had changed was when my Mother died and I began my 4 1/2 years as Dad's primary caregiver. Before my Mother's death, it was discussed that Dad would live with me or one of his other children or go into a nursing home (the latter he preferred, so he wouldn't be a burden to anyone).

To all our surprise.....Dad wanted to live by himself, on his own with his new found freedom (Yikes!). Dad was in the early stage of this horrific disease. I only live 10 minutes with a lot of help from the other sibs to make his house "Alzheimer Friendly" was agreed. For the next year and a half Dad did what he wanted to do, with the help of all his friends, family and even his own town. He was in relatively good health, except for the Alzheimers. He did a lot of walking.....and his family did a lot of praying for his safety. I toke all the safety measures I could. I notified local police and registered him in the "safe return program at the S.E. Penna Chapter of the Alzheimers Association.

Slowly over that year and a half, as Dad slipped further into his affliction; it became increasingly difficult to handle his daily tasks. HE became fearful and decided, on his own, that it was time to go somewhere. We found an assisted living facility, specific to Alzheimers and other dementia, where he could be safe, and happy; and not have to worry about laundry, zapping his meals, and the tideous chores of personal hygiene. He had worked hard all his life for the money he had.....and I saw no reason not to spend it on his happiness. He loved this place....until he started having incontinence problems.......This was the start of the final stage of his Alzheimers disease.

After a year and a half of living safe and happy (not without the normal disease progression problems though)......he was afraid. No not afraid.....he was terrified. Things began happening to him that he could not understand or even fathom. I had to make health decisions for him now.....which I had trouble understanding. Dad went thu the normal aggression stage and came out of it worse off. It caused more heart was discovered he had recently suffered mini stokes in his brain....and fluids had built up in brain ventricals. He had to be placed in a nursing home facility. This was his wishes...he also had a living will that spelled out for me what to do. And I did it with only thoughts of what he wanted me to do.

Our family was lucky, in the fact that Dad did not last long suffering in this very sad, sad, sad stage of the disease. Stage 3 began in May of this year. He lost his battle only six months later...and I lost my Father, my best friend, MY CHILD. All I ever did for him was to try to give him the best care and all the love I could. And I did care for many, many, many ways. And I did love him to the best of my ability....and you know what? That was the easy part...being his caregiver. Unconditional love! He taught he that. This is what being a caregiver is.

Joanie (InPainToo)

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