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I Am My Brother’s Keeper

By on April 23, 2012

  Merriam – Webster defines a caregiver as a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill).

The role of caregiver is one that is often unexpected. When a relative or loved one becomes ill or injured, there is often a need for someone to step up and assume the role of caretaker.  Decades ago this sort of task was typically bestowed on a female family member, caregiving was a distinct gender assignment. But times change. This task comes with many facets and is often a shared responsibility. How much or how little the caregiver participates depends on the individual.

While this assumed role may offer many a self-gratifying feeling of self-worth, others may argue that the job will ultimately bring about frustration as well as mental and physical exhaustion.

Caregiving is selfless act of service to someone who is in need.

It may include something as big as performing daily hygiene for the ill or as small as driving them to their appointments and even picking up their prescription medications. There is neither handbook nor an orientation period. It is all trial and error. It eventually becomes easier but not usually until it feels as though the sky is falling and you’ve taken on a responsibility that you have greatly underestimated.

Some caregivers find it necessary to take advantage of  the Family Medical Leave Act. A program created by the Department of labor which allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

Moreover, without minimizing the condition of the sick party, the caregiver often goes forgotten and neglected. They too, have health conditions, a job and their own plethora of immediate family concerns but it all becomes overshadowed by the greater situation; the person’s condition for whom they are caring for.

Who are these people? They are your fathers, brothers, friends, and neighbors. They are special people willing to share their gift of time and support when it’s needed most. How often do we hear of the caregiver being praised? We don’t really.  They give their time, patience and compassion to help others. Does’nt the world need a hefty dose of compassion today?

If you or someone you know are acting in a caregiver’s role. Thank you. Thank you for setting an example for us all and being a beacon of hope for our culture and our community. You may contact your local medical centers and clinics for more information on being a caregiver and possible caregiver support groups.


Maurice T.  Judkins is a Radiation Therapist for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Durham North Carolina.  He is a decorated United States Army Veteran and was trained as a Combat Lifesaver while serving a tour in Iraq. He also Contributes to healthyblackmen.org.

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