Monday, May 19, 2014

What Is an "Informal Caregiver"?

Until I read Howard Gleckman's great post entitled "Informal Caregiving? Free Caregiving? Seriously?" on, I had never heard of the term "informal caregiver." In fact, since my first baptism into caregiving with my invalid mother years ago, I have had a healthy respect for the job. In my seventeen years of caring for a disabled son, I would never have put the word caregiving together with a word as colorless as "informal."

Informal is what you wear to work on Fridays. It's sneakers and dirty jeans and hamburgers.

Informal is for when you don't care enough to give your very best.

The caregivers I know are anything but colorless. They are people capable of great devotion. Their daily lives include sacrifices that would make lesser beings tremble. They have dark days, to be sure, but the intensity of their sense of purpose and dedication can light up the room.

They feel deeply and love well. They also fall and doubt. Life for them is a roller coaster of thrills and chills.

Good, bad, and ugly, yes. But informal? Not hardly.