Am I a Caregiver?


We are excited to announce a new Work/Life class offering: “Powerful Tools for Caregivers”.

You might be thinking “This sounds great, but I’m not sure if it really applies to me – I’m not really a caregiver, I just do ……………. for (my wife, my husband, my mom, my dad, etc) every (day, week, twice a month, whenever they call me). Wait, am I a caregiver?"

The terms ‘caregiver’ and ‘caregiving’ are somewhat new – as many of us view caring for others as a normal part of our role as a family member or friend.

So – Am I a caregiver?  Caregiving is on a wide continuum ranging from 24 hour care in the home, to providing long distance support via phone calls or email.

The process of caregiving was originally proposed by Bowers (1987) and includes five categories of roles that provide meaning or purpose for the caregiver: anticipatory, preventive, supervisory, instrumental and protective.

  • Anticipatory caregiving is often practiced by adult children who are not living with parents.  As you can imagine – this type of caregiving anticipates impending issues.  Example:  Siblings discussing the possible need for one or both parents to move out of their home into some type of residential setting.
  • Preventive caregiving involves more direct involvement and is meant to prevent illness or injury.  Example:  Providing assistive devices in the home (hand rails, bath supports), assisting with medication organization, or preparing meals.
  • Supervisory caregiving is the most easily recognized as traditional ‘caregiving’ and involves direct involvement such as checking on the parent or loved one, or arranging services.  Example:  Setting up meals on wheels or companion care.
  • Instrumental caregiving involves hands on care and is typically done when the family member is ill or disabled and the purpose is to maintain the physical integrity and health status of the individual.  Example:  bathing or feeding.
  • Protective caregiving is intended to protect the family member from exploitation or abuse.  An example could be changing banks or pharmacies.

A caregiver is loosely defined as an individual who provides the following for someone:

  • Shop or do errands
  • Drive to doctor’s and other appointment
  • Manage bills
  • Organize mail
  • Order or pick up prescriptions
  • Prepare meals
  • Clean/pick up around the house
  • Mow grass/shovel snow
  • Do laundry
  • Care for a pet
  • Assist with dressing
  • Assist with bathing or grooming
  • Provide emotional support
  • Provide input in decision making
  • Help with correspondence
  • Make appointments

If you are doing any (or all) of the above for someone, you meet the definition of a caregiver.

Research studies find high rates of depression and anxiety among caregivers as well as increased vulnerability to a number of health problems, which can significantly impact well-being and productivity at the workplace. According to AARP, 68% of caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving. These adjustments include arriving late/leaving early or taking time off, cutting back on work hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely.  AARP reports that U.S. businesses lose up to an estimated $33.6 billion per year in lost productivity from full-time working caregivers.

The Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program is an evidence-based education program offering a unique combination of elements offered in a self-care education program for Family Caregivers.  The program provides caregivers of adults with chronic conditions with tools and strategies to better handle their unique caregiver challenges.

The 6 week scripted curriculum has been shown to improve:

  • Self-care behaviors (increased exercise, relaxation and medical checkups)
  • Management of emotions (reduced guilt, anger and depression)
  • Self-efficacy (increased confidence in coping with caregiving demands)
  • Use of community resources (increased utilization of local services)

We look forward to sharing this class with the SAS employees and family members.

If you aren’t a SAS employee or family member, check out the following for caregiver support resources:

The Center for Volunteer Caregiving (Triangle Area, NC)

Resources for Seniors (Triangle Area, NC)

AARP (Nationwide)


About Author

Kim Andreaus

Work Life Program Manager

Kim Andreaus is the Aging and Eldercare Program Manager for Work/Life. She has experience in geropsychiatry; both inpatient and in a community mental health setting. In addition, she has been a faculty member at NCSU, UNC-CH and Wake Tech and has taught courses in gerontology and conducted training in geriatric mental health.

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