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  Who Are Caregivers?  

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It's ironic but many people spend so much time caring for a loved one they don't recognize themselves as being a caregiver. So, if you know you are a caregiver and are seeking answers to questions, you're already on the right track.

A caregiver can be anyone:

  • Seniors taking care of their spouses.
  • Children or grandchildren taking care of their parents or grandparents.
  • Neighbors or friends taking care of older adults living down the street.
  • Grandparents taking care of grandchildren.

Quote: I never realized I was a caregiver until I started doing things for Mom that I never did before.

The term "caregiver" refers to anyone who provides assistance to someone else who needs it. This person in need could be a husband who has Alzheimer's disease, a mother with cancer or a friend or neighbor who has suffered a stroke.

It is important to know that family caregiving is very common, especially among baby boomers whose parents are beginning to experience chronic health problems. An AARP study indicated that most members of the baby boomer generation (54%) currently care for children, parents, or both.

Most often a caregiver is a woman but there are an increasing number of men who are fulfilling this role as well. Many caregivers live with or near to the person for whom they provide care; other caregivers may be living in another city or state. Regardless, caregivers are very concerned individuals who want and need to know what kind of help is "out there" for them and older family members and friends.


  What Does a Caregiver Do?  

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If you are helping an older family member or friend who can no longer manage on his or her own...if you take the older person to medical appointments or shopping...if you help with personal needs such as dressing or bathing...if you help with financial matters such as paying the bills or managing the checkbook...then you are a caregiver.

Quote: I was scared of the IV. I had to keep the wounds clean, then there was an abscess in her knee. I asked a lot of questions of the nurse until I understood what I was supposed to do.

Caregivers dedicate on average 20 hours per week providing care to older persons and even more time when the older person has multiple disabilities. Many caregivers provide care with no outside assistance whatsoever; however support services for caregivers, including information and assistance, support services such as education, training, support groups and respite care have been shown to delay nursing home placement of care recipients and provide relief to caregivers.

There is satisfaction in caring for someone in need and a great majority of caregivers (72%) believe that providing care to an older family member has brought them closer to that person. However, the mental and physical strains associated with caregiving tend to "mount up" since caregiving responsibilities can be further complicated by a job or child care responsibilities.

Help is available whether you live in Illinois or another state. Ask us a question.

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Section Links

Support for Family Caregivers
Who are caregivers?
What does a caregiver do?
Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren?
About the program
Who is eligible for services?
Where can I find out about services near me?
Limited-English speaking assistance
Caregiver Resource Centers in Illinois
Caregiver Web resources
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