What is a family caregiver?

Virtual VillageA "family caregiver" is anyone providing physical and/or emotional care for an ill or disabled person at home. Loved ones in need of care could be suffering from physical or mental illness, disability, substance misuse, or other conditions.

There are different types of family caregivers:

  • Parents
  • Adult children
  • Spouses
  • Family members
  • Neighbors
  • Friends

A family caregiver takes on a new role for which you may not feel prepared. It is normal for family caregivers to feel nervous or overwhelmed about what is expected of you. You may experience a variety of mixed emotions including anxiety, anger, and sadness. At the same time, you will probably feel the desire to care for your loved one the best way you can.

At a time when hospitals are releasing patients earlier, the elderly are living longer, and people are living with many chronic illnesses, more family members and friends are caring for loved ones at home. Often, people find themselves having to perform new and unfamiliar tasks. These may include giving medicines, assisting with meals, and performing medical and nursing procedures.

Examples of possible tasks can be:

  • Personal care
  • Emotional support
  • Medical care
  • Household management
  • Supervision
  • Translation services in medical settings