I want to write a book about the unfair expectations of a caregiver. A caregiver refers to somebody to looks after somebody else. What is the term for that 'somebody else'. 'Patient' doesn't seem all encompassing.

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    Patient is probably most appropriate. Client is a good term as well. After that, it's subjective. – anongoodnurse Mar 13 '14 at 3:24
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    Notice how caretaker and caregiver mean almost the same thing? – John Lawler Mar 13 '14 at 3:38
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    Opposite of caregiver to me is abuser or tormenter. Maybe who does caregiver take care of? – RyeɃreḁd Mar 13 '14 at 3:55
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    I think KKSim is looking for the complement of "caregiver," not its opposite. – A Brooks Mar 13 '14 at 4:36
  • Maybe we need a neologism caregetter? – bib Mar 13 '14 at 12:39

Charge or ward might be appropriate to this meaning.

Patient implies that they have a medical condition that requires looking after. But, perhaps they merely have a generalized condition requiring constant care. If it is medically stable and doesn't need any acute treatment, it seems inapt to refer to them as a patient.

Whereas, it would be a perfectly legitimate catchall to say:

The caretaker spent his time watching over his charge.

This does not imply that their relationship is restricted to being medical in nature.


Dependent works whether the caregiver is paid, unpaid, related or unrelated to the disabled individual.

  • Talking about someone's dependent immediately makes me think of taxes. The dictionary Google uses says it means there is a financial relationship: google.com/search?q=define%3Adependent. – A Brooks Mar 13 '14 at 4:35
  • I think this is the best word. Dependent means someone reliant on another. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 13 '14 at 4:48

The care recipient or receiver of care or person in care seemed to get used in official language.

The cared-for perhaps.


Charge is a person or thing committed to the care (meaning in the care) of another. (source at 3d)

Children is day care are called charges.


In the BE version of the care sector, I've heard them called: Clients, Service Users, Residents (of a Care Home / Hospice), and even (occasionally) Caree.

Patients is still common in hospital settings, but not as a form of address where names are used to be assured of the correct treatment reaching it's target.

  • +1 because I agree with all of these, but the relationship is not always a profession one. It could be a relative caring for an invalid relative, etc. – David M Mar 13 '14 at 18:07
  • We still refer to them as care-givers, if the care-giver is below 16 years, it is referred to as a "Tough living Situation". If it's not a professional relationship, I imagine they call each-other all sorts of things, but I've not encountered a specific word describing the recipient of care in this case, with the exception of "invalid", as in "I'm the sole carer of my invalid mum". – A Rogue Ant. Mar 14 '14 at 10:09
  • I agree with that part. Just the client, etc is inapt in those cases. – David M Mar 14 '14 at 10:13
  • ok, You see,I am the caregiver , to my husband who suffered a stroke, so he's the 'other name I am looking for.' However, I'd rather not say he is the care-receiver, he's more like a care-taker, care being the opposite of give (and there-in lies the problem because a caretaker can also be a caregiver, and not the opposite. My Chinese pals just shake their heads and justify their adversity to learning English. – KKSim Apr 9 '14 at 3:34

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