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Disability Is Natural Books and Media

Who is a "Caregiver"?

Internet. Weapons of mass destruction. Digital. New words and new meanings for existing words become part of our everyday vocabulary. Caregiver is one of those words. I believe this word is misused and, in the process, it can cause negative and unintended consequences. I think it’s an “Ugh!” word!

Stories about caregivers abound in magazines, newspapers, and TV news, and there are caregiver associations! But even with all this attention, there doesn’t seem to be a universally-accepted definition of the word. What do we mean when we use this term about ourselves or someone else?

I’ve seen or heard the following described as caregivers: parents and family members of persons with disabilities, adult children who help an “aging” parent, child care providers and babysitters, staff members at nursing homes and congregate living environments, and others who do something to or for another person  . . .

We love to “categorize,” “medicalize,” or “institutionalize” just about everything! So we’ve turned the naturally-occurring help provided by family members into the socially-constructed caregiver role. Click here to continue.

What would you want if you were the person needing assistance? Picture yourself as a child with a disability.  Do you want a mother, or a parent who considers herself your CAREGIVER? Now jump forward and visualize yourself as an 82-year-old. Do you want loving and respectful assistance from your son, or from your adult child who calls himself your CAREGIVER?

Kathie Snow