Caregivers are healers. This is a role that Jesus excelled at and you can too. Jesus healed day after day for several years. Everywhere he walked, He found someone in pain, in need of healing and He healed them all. He became a caregiver for thousands. At times, He was overwhelmed and He needed to get away.

We can’t care for as many as Jesus does, but those in pain that are near to us can be healed and loved by someone like you. What can you do as a modern day caregiver? Am I called to be a caregiver like Jesus? Can I sustain the same level of energy as He did?

The simple answer is probably not, and you should not expect to. In fact, Jesus never asked us to care for people in the same way or at the same level as He did. He simply wants me to care for those in pain that are near me.

If you are willing to take on that roll of caregiver, you should know a few things. Don’t be discouraged by the challenges but learn to anticipate them so you can navigate them.

A recent study from the National Institute on Aging and Ohio State University suggests that caregivers shave 4 to 8 years off their lives.They also go through a range of difficult emotions during the months or years of caregiving. Loneliness, isolation, a feeling of being undervalued and unappreciated, a lack of energy for other family members or relationships, financial burdens and others.

Most caregivers are female, as much as 83%. Men can be wonderful caregivers, but many men still have a career that makes it harder for them to take on the role of primary caregiver so women in the family lead the way. Often women seem to have the compassionate skills that motivate them to become primary caregivers as well.

Caring can take place over weeks, months or a dozen years or so, and the caring activities change from patient to patient. One of the most important questions is, “While you are caring for your spouse or parent or child as a primary caregiver, who is caring for you?” 

We will look at that question in the next article, and the resources available to you in a third article. This introduction to caregiving is to prepare you for what you are getting in to. Hopefully this won’t alarm you as much as empower you.

We have been caring for one another since the beginning of life. That has not changed. We will continue to love and provide care as long as we are on this earth. However, a look at statistics tells us that the need for caregivers and the sacrifices made by caregivers has increased. Let’s take a look at some of those stats to help us identify the trends and then activate our caring skills and resources.

  • Caregiver Gender: 60 to 80 percent female depending on region or country and culture.
  • Caregiver Age: 54 percent of family caregivers are age 50 or older (average age is 49.4 years old)
  • Caregiver Race/Ethnicity: 61 percent non-Hispanic white; 17 percent Latinx/Hispanic; 14 percent non-Hispanic African American or black; 5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander; 3 percent other race/ethnicity, including multiracial
  • Caregiver Marital Status: 54 percent married; 21 percent single, never married; 8 percent divorced; 7 percent living with a partner; 4 percent widowed
  • Caregiver Employment Status: 61 percent employed; 39 percent not employed
  • Caregiver Household Income: 36 percent have a net income less than $50,000; 64 percent have a net income of $50,000 or more (average household income is $67,500)
  • Number of Care Recipients: 76 percent care for one adult; 24 percent care for two or more adults

From Aging Care website.

At this point, you might be waived off from the idea of being a caregiver. Why would you want to put your life on hold or even risk shortening your life as a result of caregiving? There are several reasons including love and duty, or the call of God.

Love is the greatest motivator we know of. We know there are risks and trials involved with any relationship. We know that we will be restricted and often isolated, putting our hopes and dreams on hold for months, maybe years. Love looks beyond that and empowers us for those challenges.

Duty is another powerful motivator. It is a reminder of why we exist. What is our purpose and how do we fulfill our life and meaning? It is not bad to care for someone out of duty, just different than love. Love does seem to have more endurance to it, propelling us a little further than duty, affording us more strength and grit in the tougher times.

Calling is related. If we hear God’s voice calling us to be a caregiver to a loved one, then we are responding to God’s belief in us. He inspires and empowers us, even with our weaknesses and shortcomings by trusting in Him for guidance, courage and support when we need it most.

Sometimes you take on the primary caregiver role because you are the only one who can. You may have to watch yourself for resentment and bitterness if others could be helping but stand off at a distance.

Often, a test comes to the caregiver when the question of placement is considered. Do I really love my mother or father if I am considering moving them into a nursing facility?

I have often thought of that differently. Do you love them enough to know and face the tough decision to move them into the nursing home or higher level of care facility when you are convinced it is the best thing for them? Love can help us make some pretty tough decisions when we have to.

Are you ready to be a caregiver? Most people have their doubts, yet they rise to the call and love moves them forward. The next article will help you to know when to turn to others for wise and seasoned help and the third article will help you to know where to turn for that help.

You have a challenge ahead of you. Many have met the task with great love and courage.  You can too.


After nearly 40 years as an Adventist pastor and Hospice chaplain, Marty Thurber retired this June. He is still uncovering the mysteries of retirement and is focusing on health, family and living the Spirit-filled life in Lincoln, Nebraska.