Support the Caregiver You Know

Do you know someone who takes care of a patient? Do you call to check on them?

They may not look like they need or want help, but they could use your aid. Caregivers need qualified individuals available to relieve them and provide support. A daily thirty-minute break or someone to talk to can help tremendously. Caregiving is an enormous responsibility and even the best caregivers become overwhelmed. 

Caring for anyone is stressful, more so when your patient requires care seven days a week, around the clock. Caregivers exert themselves mentally, emotionally and physically all the time. Sometimes they are the only option for family members suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or other debilitating conditions.

If you have a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor who is a caregiver, give them support. Thoughtful gestures and small favors make a difference; when you offer to assist them, keep your word and deliver upon the agreement. 

Everyone’s life is hectic and constantly changing, what is unimportant to one person is a big ordeal to someone else. You forgetting to pick up their prescription or gallon of milk may seem insignificant to you, but would it be insignificant if someone forgot to feed your pet or pick up your child after school? You may think those are different circumstances but they're not. The milk could be for their child and the prescription could be an inhaler, insulin, or heart medicine. Something required for them to function. The point is when people decide upon verbal agreements they expect someone to fulfill them. Don’t offer them help only to disappoint them.

I know people want to give a lending hand but don't know how to help without feeling like a nuisance or intruder. Many caregivers are stretched to their limit and short on time, anything you can do to alleviate either is beneficial. If you have strict time constraints don’t offer to cut their grass knowing you barely manage to cut yours. Start with small task.

If you are a caregiver who rejects help because of experience or pride, then you’re making an extensive mistake. I have too much pride, something I’m working on but even I yearned for help when caring for my mother. My mother was diagnosed with dementia and lost both legs due to poor circulation after her diagnoses. Please learn from my struggles and don’t go at this alone.

Take the time to research and join a support group specific to your patients needs. Most likely the problems you are facing, someone in the group has experience with and can share their knowledge. If not, the group can help you come up with a solution or provide an ear while you vent your frustrations.

Before we part, I would like to suggest way's you can help the caregiver you know. The following suggestions allow you to help without making the caregiver feel indebted to you or too much to ask of you if you’re sincere. Each person's situation is unique, so after reading the idea’s I’ve provided, it may spark others within you.

Suggestions:

  • Let them know you are there for them and mean it.
  • Make routine visits to check on their well-being. 
  • Grocery shopping or picking up their groceries. They can place their order online since most markets have pickup options and you can pick it up for them. 
  • If you have a garden, and you can spare an extra tomato, pepper, cucumber or whatever, give it to them.
    If you’re handy with tools, offer free maintenance service.
  • Wash or vacuum their car. 
  • Yard work. Water their plants, cut their grass, pick up leaves or shovel their snow. 
  • Volunteer to read or sit with their patient for 30 minutes, maybe longer while they catch up on another task. Maybe get well-deserved time to themselves. 
  • When you’re at the grocery with extra money, buy a thoughtful treat. Such as their favorite dessert, beverage or flowers.
  • If you know each other well enough and you’re a decent cook, prepare them a meal. Best to discuss preferences and food allergies before you waste time and resources preparing food they don’t eat. This could be a huge help to a caregiver short on time and finances.

Suggestions for those with limited time or resources:

  • Check on them and ask how they are. 
  • Send daily motivational text; words of encouragement.
  • On garbage day, set out their trash when you set out yours.
  • Offer to walk their dog or feed their pets.
  • Every week you could offer a housekeeping service such as vacuuming, helping with laundry, or dishes. 
  • When you go to the store, pick up items for them. Such as the pharmacy, pet store or other places the caregiver visits along your route.

These are just suggestions and ways to show the caregiver you know support. I am sure once you set your mind to helping someone deserving you will come up with your own idea’s.

Payton Freeman

About the Author

Payton Freeman

Publishing her first book about the challenges she and her family endured while caring for her mother. The book outlines healthy habits anyone can incorporate into his or her life. Follow her on Twitter to learn about up-and-coming projects and books.

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