Caregiver Roles and Responsibilities


Caregiver RoleCaregiver roles and responsibilities are often never-ending and typically require caregivers to wear many hats. Whether you’re providing care for older adults who are no longer able to care for themselves, someone who is ill, or disabled friends and family members, even the smallest of tasks take time and effort. Often times, caregiving responsibilities can become too demanding, leading to exhaustion and stress.

It is estimated that close to 45 million Americans provide 38 billion hours of unpaid, “informal” care each year for friends and family members living with chronic conditions that limit them from handling daily activities such as bathing, medication management or meal preparation.

Family caregivers, provide around 75% of the total caregiving support in the United States. In 2013, the estimated monetary value of family caregivers’ unpaid contributions was approximately $470 billion, up from an estimated $450 billion in 2009. This is an estimate of what it would cost to replace that care with paid services.

Caregiver Responsibilities

While some of elderly, ill and impaired get help from professional caregivers, most count on and rely upon unpaid assistance from families, friends and neighbors. The list of responsibilities is endless. Here are some of the tasks that family caregiving typically requires:

Typical Family Caregiver Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, administering medications
  • Help with shopping and buying groceries
  • Schedule medical appointments and transportation to the doctor or clinic
  • Order and pick up medications from the pharmacy
  • Aid with transferring in and out of bed
  • Assist with physical therapy, injections, feeding tubes or other medical processes
  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Cleaning house and doing laundry
  • Talk over care plans and needs with the doctors and care managers
  • Handle a crisis or medical emergency
  • Fill the designated “on-call” position for the family member

These are just some of the primary caregiver duties and responsibilities you’ll likely run across in your role as family caregiver. As hard as you try to make an effort to keep everything in control and function like a well-oiled machine, things happen and surprises occur around every corner. It’s always a good idea to have plan in place for when things don’t go as planned.

Tips for New Caregivers

If you’re new to the caregiver role, following these steps will help you navigate through the process and help ease some of your concerns. It’s normal to become overwhelmed and confused. Take it one step at a time for best results and take it easy on yourself.

Familiarize yourself with the family member’s diagnosis by talking with professional care providers and doing online research. This will help you better understand the illness or condition and help make you better prepared for the task at hand.

Get informed about your care recipient’s own healthcare wishes. Begin the conversation about finances and healthcare early on. Complete the Durable Powers of Attorney for finances and healthcare proxy to better prepare for emergencies.

Build your own support network by getting the entire family involved and having a discussion about what’s needed now and what may be needed in the future. Include the family member who needs care. Take this opportunity to discuss who can help when your role as primary caregiver becomes too overwhelming or too difficult to handle on your own.

Educate yourself about the resources available to you throughout your local community, such as adult day care services for respite care support and meal delivery options like Meals on Wheels. Also, within most cities and towns, there are organizations which provide training classes to increase your know-how and confidence.

Find a support group. It can be very helpful to talk with other family caregivers going through the same thing as you. Local and online support groups are very useful.