Thursday, April 11, 2013

Is Caregiver A Four Letter Word?

Whenever there is a group of people that someone is trying to reach, they are going to created a term for it.  The term catches on and the next thing you know, the group has a label.  This is not such a bad thing.  I have seen that everyone in the blogging community refers to military spouses as Milspouses.   And PTSD spouse are called Caregivers.

But is Caregivers the best term?

I have used it.  I call myself a Caregiver, as do most of the spouses of those with PTSD that I know or am in contact with.  What is interesting is that my husband hates the term.  He turns a funny shade of red every time I make a reference to being a Caregiver or to the Caregiver community.  He hates the idea that we have coined the phrase and use it to describe our situation.

I can't say that I blame him.  The more and more I use it or think about it, it's kind of an offensive term to my husband and with a valid reason.  The term caregiver denotes a person caring for an invalid.  Someone that can't can't care for themselves and is incapable of doing anything on their own.  If I think about it from a subjective, outside of the community way, I hear the term and think of someone who does hospice care for the elderly or works in some sort of home for those who can't care for themselves.

My husband is a capable man.  He works a job and pays the bills (sort of).  He needs help and support from me, that is true.  He needs me to help him during his cycles and his mood swings.  He needs help talking him down from escalations, but what he is not is an invalid.  He is not someone who can't do anything for himself.

So, looking at it from that standpoint, is "caregiver" really the best name for what I do?  No.

It's tough to find a term or word that encompasses an entire group.  But maybe our community needs to rethink Caregiver.  My husband finds it offensive and I'm sure he's not alone in that feeling and I understand why he feels that way.  Maybe we should consider the term a four letter word and look for something that is a bit more sensitive.


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