What Is a Primary Caregiver?

A primary caregiver is a person responsible for the care of another person or child as defined by the law. In custody agreements or orders, the primary caregiver is the person the child lives with majority of the time.

The primary caregiver is the person who assumes responsibility for the health, safety and housing of another adult or child. For example, when an elderly person is incapacitated due to illness, a primary caregiver provides assistance with feeding, bathing and changing and may even handle finances when mental deficiencies exist. In some cases, the primary caregiver is also designated as power of attorney for the individual. When people reside in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers, the medical staff serve as the primary caregivers.

When illness strikes, primary caregivers often perform medical and therapeutic tasks for patients and operate as personal advocates and home-based care coordinators. In many cases, family members often serve as the primary caregiver offering both physical and moral support for ailing individuals.

In custody agreements, a parent labeled as the primary caregiver does not receive any extra authority or decision-making power than the other parent beyond day-to-day activities and decisions. However, the child or children live with the primary caregiver majority of the time and use the residence as a permanent address.