More on the Terminology of CARE


care         In a comment after my last post, my always astute (and caring) friend Mary Smith  wrote that the word “carer” is used in England instead of caregiver. I looked at the word on the screen and had an aha moment of Yes, that’s exactly who I am.

But then she added  “there is a movement against it, saying it is a patronising way of describing the relationship between the individuals involved.” Damn it.! I thought, bemused to say the least.

Language is such a tricky business these days. I don’t care about the “movement” or if I am being regressive. I love the term carer for the layers and nuance it holds. Getting rid of giver or partner, we are left with that fascinating, almost self-contradictory word care.

There is the the noun. Care as worry. The cares we carry with us daily. And must surmount. Actually the first definition that came up just now in my Webster’s Third (a wedding present way back when) for the  noun care is  “suffering of mind.” Wow. Forget those who may or may not be suffering duress from  mental or neurological problem; suffering of mind sums up almost everyone I know who follows the news these days.

To care about someone or something means that person or thing or issue matters. Is important to the carer.

To care for can be physical and practical. That’s the meaning caregiver implies, at least to me. It is how I feel about myself sometimes when I have done a good job of maintaining a steady comfort level for Ralph and me. Also when I am exhausted after managing issues in Ralph’s life I don’t want to or when I am struggling not to react to him with impatience or annoyance (more often than I want to admit).

To care for someone can mean to take care of,  but it can also mean to feel affection, whether that affection is polite and somewhat distant or a bit more intense and romantic (like my adolescent Victorian novel fantasies of a handsome man taking my hand in the moonlight to announce softly, “I have grown to care for you my dearest, very deeply.”

A carer has cares. A carer cares for and about others whom he/she may also take care of.

So basically CARER  pretty much sums up Ralph and me and our situation–the good, the problematic and the bittersweet.


4 thoughts on “More on the Terminology of CARE

  1. Language is indeed a tricky business these days and it’s not easy keeping up. One of my son’s friends is non-binary and does not want to be labelled her or she. I have to refer to them in the third person plural, which totally goes against what I was taught in grammar class!
    I agree with you and think carer is a good word to use. I cared for my dad and cared about him. The care agencies who provide paid staff to provide care at home now refer to them as support workers rather than carers, which kind of makes sense. We’ll never get it right and life is too short – and often too fraught – to worry about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes “support workers” makes sense, but I am thinking about the women who helped care for my mother for the ten years she lived with us and I hope the term gives them proper credit for the degree of effort they put in. I never felt they got the full respect they deserve. But I don’t have a good alternative term so have no right to judge…..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you. It’s a little like my preference for the term “care home” over “facility” or “nursing home” – (although I think care home in England has different meanings). But emphasizing care over structure.
    Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So interesting. I am not sure why terminology has become such a sensitive issue but it has. I like “care home” a lot but have never heard it used here. Thanks for writing.


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