Caregivers of all kinds are faced with many duties. Being a caregiver is a position that can take emotional, mental, and bodily strength in addition to financial, physical, and logistical concerns. Friends and family members who know caregivers often want to help, but providing help can seem confusing and intrusive. Providing support for a caregiver is crucial to helping them give the best care possible. Read on for some tips on how to support the caregivers in your life.
Be Specific With Offers
Telling a caregiver “let me know how I can help” sounds helpful, but this ends up putting pressure on the caregiver to reach out and ask for help, which they might not be able to do. Instead, offer specific help, such as”
- “I have some free time this weekend. I can sit for you while you run errands/take time for self-care/etc.”
- “I’m going to the grocery store later. Is there anything I can pick up for you?”
- “Does your lawn need to be mowed/laundry done/other household task? I can take care of that for you this weekend, if you’d like.”
Additionally, consider doubling the recipe the next time you make a dish that can be reheated later, such as a casserole or meatloaf. You can also offer to send takeout or a hot meal from a restaurant the caregiver likes. Make sure you check with the caregiver if there are dietary concerns or if they already have a lot of one kind of food—even a simple casserole can seem welcome to a person getting loads of bread, for example.
Check In With Them
Remember that caregivers often feel as if their whole lives are wrapped in the care of their loved ones. Sending a card, an email, or text shows the caregiver that you are thinking of them. A personal visit can be even better for providing contact with the outside world, but be sure to clear a time with the caregiver in advance to avoid interrupting.
Look out for Signs of Caregiver Stress
Taking care of a loved one is a stressful experience for many. Often, a caregiver can experience isolation, depressed feelings, anxiety, exhaustion, and other problems. These issues affect the caregiver and the person being cared for as well. For this issue, asking about how the caregiver is doing can start the conversation that allows for help and aid. Remember that the needs of caregivers are frequently forgotten as the focus is on the patient.
Being able to listen to a caregiver and validate their feelings is a tremendous help, as caring for a loved one often involve conflicting feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt, and worry. Be careful about offering advice — chances are, the caregiver has been researching and working with the patient’s doctors enough to know a lot about the condition or illness. You don’t have to provide solutions or promises that “it will all be okay”— instead, validating their struggles and letting them guide you to their needs will give both of you more effective help.
Keep in mind that some caregivers might have a hard time accepting help, especially if they feel that if they aren’t providing adequate care unless they do everything. You can keep offering your help while gently reminding the caregiver that they are not alone, they are allowed help, and taking care of themselves allows them to be better caregivers.
Caregivers can frequently feel neglected, as most people focus on the needs of the patient. The process of providing care is often exhausting, intimidating, and difficult to experience. Helping a caregiver can have multiple forms, such as doing side tasks, providing emotional support, and letting them know you care about them.
Have you ever provided care for a loved one? What help did you need the most?