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From Our Caregiving Expert: Lose These Misconceptions About Caregiving

And what so many of us wish more people understood

By Jason Resendez

This column regularly appears in Next Avenue's caregiving newsletter, The 24/7 Caregiver. Sign up here.

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Q: What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about being a caregiver? What do you wish more people understood?

A: Like a kaleidoscope of experiences, caregiving manifests in diverse forms, each journey as unique as the individuals involved. It's no surprise, then, that misconceptions can cloud the realities of caregiving. Dispelling these myths is a crucial step towards dismantling stigma and fostering a sense of belonging among the 53 million strong caregiver nation.

1. Caregiving is "informal"

Caregiving is a demanding and often challenging role that requires a wide range of skills and knowledge. Caregivers must be able to provide physical and emotional support, manage medications and treatments, and navigate complex health care systems. They also need to be patient, compassionate, and understanding. While often unpaid, caregiving is highly skilled work.

2. Caregiving is only for women

While women are more likely to be caregivers than men, there are more than 20 million men who also provide care for a loved one. Caregiving is a role that can be performed by anyone, regardless of gender.

3. Caregiving is only for family members

While family members often provide care for loved ones, there are also friends and "chosen family" that step up to provide care. This is especially true in the LGBTQ+ community where half of adults are as likely to have a partner, twice as likely to live alone, and four times as likely not to have children compared to non-LGBTQ individuals.

4. Caregiving is a thankless job

Caregiving can be a very rewarding experience. Caregivers often develop close bonds with the people they care for and find satisfaction in helping them live their best lives. According to NAC and AARP's Caregiving in the U.S., more than half of family caregivers report they receive a sense of fulfillment from caregiving.


5. Caregivers don't need any training or support

Caregivers need training and support to provide the best possible care for their loved ones. However, just 29% of family caregivers report a health care professional has asked them about the support they need. There are many resources available to help caregivers, including training programs, support groups, and online resources (more here).

As caregiving becomes more visible in our lives and communities, we must acknowledge its multifaceted nature. It's not confined to a single demographic or circumstance; it transcends age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Caregivers are the unsung heroes who selflessly dedicate themselves to the well-being of others, often sacrificing their own needs in the process.

By recognizing the diversity of caregiving experiences, we can begin to dismantle the stigma that often surrounds this role. Caregivers are not martyrs; they are pillars of strength, resilience and compassion. They deserve our recognition, support and admiration.

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Jason Resendez is the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, where he leads research, policy, and innovation initiatives to build health, wealth, and equity for America’s 53 million family caregivers. Jason is a nationally recognized expert on family care, aging and the science of inclusion in research. In 2020 he was named one of Next Avenue's Influencers in Aging. Read More
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