1. Levine, Carol

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I would like to clarify one point in the excellent article "Family Caregivers" (A New Look at the Old, August 2006). Typically, policymakers and researchers use the term "informal caregiving" to differentiate the tasks provided by unpaid, nonprofessional caregivers from those provided by paid professionals and paraprofessionals, such as nurses and aides. Family-caregiver advocates dislike the term "informal" because it suggests a lesser, more casual involvement. While no term covers everyone (some family caregivers are paid), this is the definition many of us use: "family caregivers" include anyone who provides assistance to an adult or child with chronic illness or disability or to a frail or cognitively impaired older person. This care can include emotional support, surrogate decision making, financial contributions, care management, or hands-on care. Family members may provide all or some of the care and may not live with the recipient.


Carol Levine


New York City