Wednesday, December 01, 2010
caregiver or carer
Alas! the barrier of a common language. In North America, we are “caregivers”, everywhere else in the English speaking world we are “carers”.
Communicating between or with similar caregivers / carers should be helpful. Yet, secondary labels such as family, spousal, sandwich, elder, parent, child, and informal often confound rather than clarify.
Giving care is dynamic and often unique in needs. We become defined by our circumstances.
‘Juggling’ is the only phrase I have ever found to describe balancing caregiving for my wife with progressive Multiple Sclerosis while basically single parenting and raising our daughter – which has occupied 21 years of my life.
In the beginning a person struggling for independence following a life altering diagnosis or disability may bristle at unsolicited though well intended offers or labels of a family member or friend as their carer / caregiver.
On the other end of the spectrum, when progression evolves to the care facility era are you still a caregiver / carer?
When some of us become legally empowered to make decisions for another, it’s odd that neither the word guardian nor advocate involves the root word ‘care’.
Regardless of labels or situation I believe we share some common denominators.
The carer / caregiver chooses to step forward as sentinel. There is no lengthy deliberation over how to care, how to spend money on care, and the future of care.
I believe we can all agree that we are the ‘hands on’ family or friends of an individual who needs help with his or her activities of daily living.
I believe most of us feel we are alone.
We have no secret handshake. There will be no gold watch, no retirement plan. We cannot even agree on what we are called.
Most important, we’ve chosen to turn from ordinary people to something different.
Tonight, Patti and I sat sipping hot chocolate while snow flurries danced around us. While Patti’s memory of the moment melted with the snow, I couldn’t help but reflect perhaps we caregivers / carers are like snowflakes and no two are the same.
Special thanks to Elder Depot Caregiver's Corner for
by Patrick Leer
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