Many people wonder about the difference in the meanings of the two words caretaker and caregiver.

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Although “to give” and “to take” describe opposite actions, caretakers and caregivers both mean “those who provide attentive care.”

Caretaker is “a person who takes care of an object, place, or person

Caretaker means “one who cares for a thing, place, or person; who is responsible for anything”. Here are two examples given in the Oxford dictionary of usage of these words:

“The souter’s wife.. was servant to Gilbert Brown..and..acted as nurse and care-taker to Agnes his daughter.” (1858)

“The shoemaker’s wife… was Gilbert Brown’s resident… and… worked as a nurse and caretaker for his daughter Agnes.” (1858)

“The caretaker of the house met them, hat in hand.” (1859)

“The butler of the house stooped to meet them.” (1859)

Caregiver means “one who cares for an elderly or disabled person, who is usually a specialist or close relative”.

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Caregiver means “one who cares for an elderly or disabled person, who is usually a specialist or close relative”. Caregiver can also refer to a father (or mother), adoptive parent (adoptive mother), or social services specialist who specializes in the care of infants or children.

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“According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans (or 29% of the U.S. adult population involving 31 percent of all U.S. households) served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.”

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“According to estimates by the National Alliance for Caregiving, over the past year, 65.7 million Americans (29% of the US adult population, including 31% of households) have served as caregivers for a loved one who is sick or disability in the family.”

In modern usage, caretaker is sometimes used with the same meaning as caregiver, but is more commonly used with the following two main meanings:

Noun: a custodian of property:

“Alan John, caretaker at Buckholme Towers School in Lower Parkstone for 17 years, died in June this year at Forest Holme Hospice.”

“Alan John, who looked after the Buckholme Towers property in Lower Parkstone for the past 17 years, passed away this June at Forest Holme Hospital.”

“St. Louis looks to overhaul Soldiers Memorial, find new caretaker.”

“St. Louis looking to restore the Memorial, find a new custodian.”

Adjective (or prepositional noun): designating a government, governing body, etc. to a temporary position:

“CAS Coovadia, the MD of the Banking Association of South Africa, has been appointed as the caretaker CEO of Business Unity South Africa (Busa) while the business organization looks for a new CEO.”

“CAS Coovadia, a medical doctor for the South African Bankers Association, has been appointed as the carer for the Director General of the Economic Development Authority of South Africa (Busa) while the organization is looking for a new Director General. .”

“Bulgarian president names new caretaker government.”

“The President of Bulgaria names the new provisional government.”

The group of people being cared for by a caregiver is called a “care group”. An individual in care may be referred to by any name, such as “Mr. Jones” (proper name) or “mother”.

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