As Rosalyn Carter famously said:
"There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers."
This guide is part of a series. Our other guides are:
US health care systems are complex and confusing for everyone, and can become more so as we age. This recent radio program from station WBUR in Boston highlights many of the issues that seniors - and their caregivers - worry about. Listen and read at the link below:
But caregiving is not just for seniors. Most of us care for other people throughout our lives, in many different ways. This guide uses the National Cancer Institute's broad definition of caregiver as "person who gives care to people who need help taking care of themselves". This guide focuses on caring for people later in their lives, at whatever age that might be.
That care takes many forms. The Atlas of Caregiving's categories list the kinds of activities that come first to mind - household chores, personal help with the activities of daily life, social and emotional support - but also healthcare management, coordinating care, and financial assistance. Caregivers can be unpaid or paid, professional carers or family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, volunteers or members of caring organizations.
Already a significant number before the pandemic, it's estimated that over 50 million people in the U.S., over 1 in 5, are now unpaid caregivers for family or friends. If you are, too - you're not alone!
For details on how to care for someone with COVID-19 at home, please see our Guide on Coronavirus and COVID-19, especially the page on What to Do if You Think You're Sick - or if Someone Else is, the page on Vaccines, and/or the page on Coping with this Pandemic.
People in care homes have been particularly at risk for COVID, and may still be. If your loved one is in a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, rehabilitation facility, or another type of care home, here's a list of important questions to ask, and ask often:
We believe that being well-informed is key to taking better care of health (our own, and of our loved ones), and empowers us to work more effectively with our health care professionals.
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