Posted in Caregiving

Does Caregiver Really Capture the Essence?

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

As I read pathographies (books written by those facing an illness), I’m very conscious of the words people use to tell their stories.  It’s the subtle nature of the words that can impact the meaning, both on the storytelling side and the audience.  How are you perceived as a caregiver based on the story you tell?  How do you perceive yourself?  How would you like to be perceived?

It struck me last night that we use the word care-“giver”.  I can’t tell you why but that word has been leaving a sour taste in my mouth.  It’s not that I don’t honor the care”giver”, but I think that when we use this word the individual who is the care”giver” loses some of their personal power.  Unfortunately the only example I can give is training my dog.  My dog  Bella is an Australian Shepherd and Husky mix.  It’s hard to believe that she’s better at retrieving than my retriever, but it’s true.  When she fetches a toy and I want it back I ask her to “give” it to me.  It’s a command.

I feel the same about care”giving”.  It makes it sound like the individual providing care has been stripped of their personal power and have been given a command.  All the care”givers” I know and have met over the years provide care out of love and compassion.  The care they offer is a gift.  So what would happen if we shifted the term from caregiver to careofferer?  I know it’s a mouthful and perhaps it’s not the exact word, but the sentiment is more important than the actual word.

The idea that someone, you the careofferer, offer physical, emotional, and spiritual support is an offering.  You can’t force care upon someone unless they are incapacitated.  I believe that by looking at this as an offering it empowers you, the care provider, to come from a place of nurturance and partnership, not duty and obligation.

They say that little things mean a lot and I believe that making this shift, maybe not in our daily vocabulary, but in your heart and soul could be a monumental shift in your experience providing care?  What are your thoughts on the matter?

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