Caretaker vs. Caregiver: What's the Difference?

a caregiver or caretaker taking care of someone close to her

Your loved ones are important to you, but what happens when they are no longer able to take care of themselves due to a disability or the progression of age? You want to make sure they're getting the best care possible.

In the past year alone, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 65.7 million Americans served as caregivers for an ill, disabled, or aged family member.

Many don't understand the difference between a caretaker vs caregiver. In this guide, we will discuss the distinctions.

Caretaker vs Caregiver

Both words have the word 'care' in them which implies that caring is at the core of both. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, we'll explain some key differences between what it means to be a caretaker vs caregiver.


So what is a caregiver? Usually, a caregiver is someone who takes care of or supports another. This could be due to any number of reasons including an illness, accident, disability, or someone of advanced age. 

Caregivers are often skilled nurses, home health aides, or physical therapists, but they can also be friends and family members who are trained in caring for a specific incapacitated person. 

Being a caregiver means a person is responsible for the day-to-day operations that involve the care and feeding of the individual in need. Some of these tasks may include medication dispensing, meal preparation, bathing, and toileting. Caregiving is a more one-on-one approach as well. especially for things such as rehabilitative physical therapy. 

Caregivers can provide in-home care for individuals who do not wish to go to a live-in facility. This long-term care option means they can remain in their home. A health care facilitator can visit their home daily or live on the premises of the person requiring care. When a disabled person is in the comfort and safety of their own home, they are less stressed and less likely to be exposed to germs that live-in care homes frequently experience.

Caregiving involves setting boundaries so that the caregiver is not taken advantage of and can look out for themselves. For family caregivers, payment or compensation is generally not expected in return for it. They allow the person to make their own decisions, if possible, and not interfere with their personal lives. 


Then what is a caretaker you might ask? Caretaking also involves taking care of a person, but often caretaking creates a strain on the individual providing care for another. Caretakers don't put their own self-care first and can burn out or overextend themselves easily.

Caretakers can often become too dependent on their care receivers. This creates an imbalance in the relationship, especially when they feel they aren't being appreciated enough or are being manipulated by the care recipient. This can also create a co-dependency between both parties with resentment becoming the main factor of being a caretaker.

Caretakers don't put enough distance between themselves and their recipients and often close themselves off from any social circle interactions. They expect everything they do for a person to come with a conditional mindset. A caretaker can get a certain level of superiority in being needed and become overly dominant. 

Caretakers must realize the change in behavior and find help and support to deal with their behaviors. Neither side benefits from this lopsided dynamic. 

Take Care of What Matters

When you or someone you know is taking care of another person, the intentions must be good. Caregiving should be done for all the right reasons. Both sides should retain their relative independence.

When you're caregiving for someone you care about, you want to make sure their mobility needs are being met right along with everything else.

At BraunAbility, we understand this. We have many resources available, as well as a variety of mobility solutions. Contact us today to find the right mobility options for you or your loved ones.

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