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What is Caregiving?

The term "caregiver" refers to anyone who provides assistance to someone who needs help: a husband who has suffered a stroke; a wife with Parkinson's disease; a mother-in-law with cancer; or a grandfather with Alzheimer's disease.

Family and Friend Caregivers

Informal caregiver and family/friend caregiver are terms that refer to unpaid individuals such as family members, friends and neighbors who provide care. These individuals can be primary or secondary caregivers, full-time or part-time, and can live with the person being cared for or live separately.

Not sure if you're a caregiver? Do you help an older family member or friend with any of the following?

  • Pick-up a prescription at the drug store?
  • Help with paying bills?
  • Prepare meals?
  • Do lawn work or make small home repairs?
  • Do laundry or clean out the refrigerator?
  • Offer a reminder about when to take medications?

If you are helping an older adult with small tasks involved in everyday routines, you are a caregiver. Take time to educate yourself and begin to build a support system. Take the "Are You a Caregiver?" Quiz.

Professional Caregivers

If you have the resources to hire a professional caregiver for yourself or a loved one at home, there are many things to consider.

If you want hire an in-home healthcare worker from an agency rather than independently, you usually work closely with agency staff instead of job applicants.'s Home Healthcare Agency Checklist can help you navigate the agency hiring process.

If you want to hire an in-home health care worker without going through an agency, these 15 questions will help you find a reliable match for your loved one.

For caregiving resources, visit our Online Resources and Regional Resources pages.

Sources: Family Caregiver Alliance at,