Am I a Caregiver?

Family Caregiving September 23, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Although people have been caring for others throughout history, the words "caregiver" and "caregiving" are fairly new to most people. Many people see caregiving as the normal expected duties of a husband, a wife, an adult child, a brother or sister or other family member. So while some people may readily identify themselves as family caregivers, others are more reluctant. Rosalynn Carter said there are only four kinds of people, those who:

  • have been caregivers,
  • currently are caregivers,
  • will be caregivers, and
  • will need caregivers.

Family caregiving often starts with running errands and helping shop or manage legal and financial affairs. It sometimes escalates into more complex or more intimate tasks if the health of the person needing care declines.

Caregiving differs according to need, community resources and caregiver capability. Some people may provide 24-hour care in their home, while others provide guidance and support via long-distance phone calls and correspondence. Some offer care after work or on weekends; others supplement care in a nursing home or have help from a local hospice organization when caring for a family member.

Care may range from administering medicines and physical therapy to taking care of daily needs. Among the most common types of help for older adults in the United States are bathing or showering (53%), dressing (46%), transferring to or from a bed or chair (30%) and toileting (23%). Also help is given with shopping for groceries or clothes (84%), doing light housework (39%), taking medications (23%) and preparing meals (23%).

Family caregivers help with household tasks and provide the much-needed emotional support essential for healing and coping with long-term disability, degenerative disease, and chronic or terminal illness. Half of all caregivers provide care for at least 8 hours per week and 20% provide 40 hours or more per week to those needing long-term care. The remaining 30% provide less than 8 hours of care per week.

Nationwide, 53% (6.4 million)of all individuals who need long-term care are adults 65 and older, 44% (5.3 million) are 18 to 64, and 03% (400,000) are children under age 18.

Of older adults with long-term care needs, about 30% (1.5 million) have substantial long-term care needs. This means they need help with three or more activities of daily living such as walking, dressing, eating, using the toilet, bathing, and getting in and out of bed. Nearly 25% of these are the oldest adults --age 85 and older--and 70% report they are in fair to poor health.


Family Caregiving is Everyone's Business

Am I a Caregiver?

Other Family Caregivers

Family Caregiving Is Important

Future Caregivers

The Cost of Caregiving

The Family Cost of Caregiving

Where Older Adults and Their Caregivers Live

Dementia Caregivers

Support for Caregivers

Caregiver Resources

Reference List and Downloads

Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.