“Caretaker” vs. “Caregiver”

A couple of days ago, I spent the evening in the emergency room.  Let me just say that when a stone takes up residence in my kidney, and then invites all his friends to the party, it just isn’t any fun for me.

A new caregiver of mine was keeping me company.  In fact, the time we spent in the hospital happened to be her first shift. (How is that for breaking in a  ‘newbie’?) While I was there, I was in the middle of the usual hassles I have in hospitals.  Nobody could find a good vein for the IV, and when they finally did, we had to wait forever for the results of the blood tests. I was feeling quite proud of my level of patience until something  happened that made my skin crawl.

After we had been there for several hours, a doctor I had never seen before came into the room.  She started asking all the questions I had been asked before, and then she told me I was being  admitted.

I looked her in the eyes and clearly stated that I would rather go home.  Then, without a word to me, she looked at my caregiver and asked “Are you okay with that?

The immediate response that ran through my head was “I want to smack you, are you okay with that?”

I have been over 21 for a long time.  I consider myself to be bright and articulate.  I have a Master’s degree. It never ceases to amaze me that some people simply choose to ignore my presence when talking about things involving my care.  After giving the matter some thought, a possible reason occurred to me.

Some people consider those who are with me to be  “caretakers” rather than “caregivers”.  Let me explain what I mean.

I define a “caretaker” as someone who does things for someone else because they don’t know how to do it themselves.  A mother takes care of a baby, for example, because the baby does not know how to meet his own needs. Doctors take care of their patients when those patients need their illnesses diagnosed and treated.

A “caregiver” on the other hand, gives support to a person while getting input from that person as to what needs to be done.  A chauffeur can be a caregiver.  A secretary is a certain kind of caregiver as well.

I would be the first to admit that, because of my circumstances, there are many things that I cannot do on my own. I will also readily admit that without the support of my caregivers I would be toast. No question. But if they were to do the things that I need to have done without my feedback as to how to do them, we could both get hurt.  They would also be taking all my power away.  Feeling powerless irritates me faster than almost anything else.

So, for now, I will continue to work closely with my caregivers to accomplish everything I need to.  I will advocate for myself whenever it is necessary to do so, and give a little “education” to people who otherwise seem unaware.

Sometimes doctors need caretakers.  Just sayin’

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This entry was posted in Ableism, boundaries, caregivers, communicating respect, doctors, Education, Health, hospitals, medical emergencies, negative perceptions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Caretaker” vs. “Caregiver”

  1. Baker Bettie says:

    That is so true about caregiver vs caretaker. I had never really thought of it in this way, but so very true. It worries me that a doctor doesn’t have the sense to communicate with their patient directly. What a great opportunity for you though to open their eyes to this so that another person may not have to experience the same thing. Being in healthcare opened my eyes to a lot of hard lessons that were so very important to learn. I’m grateful for every single patient that broke me in to things that I wasn’t even aware I was doing. It sounds like you were very patient in this situation.

  2. Thanks Baker Bettie! I am so glad that you are willing to learn from your patients. I have known many people in healthcare that do not take advantage of the same opportunity. Grin! I truly appreciate when people know that they don’t know everything, and realize that there are always new lessons to learn.

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