Caring for Caregivers: 4 Ways to Help a Family Caregiver

January 04, 2018

Caregivers do a great deal for those in need, often going above and beyond in their duties to help those ailing and injured.  It is because of this selfless quality in caregivers that they tend to overwork themselves, often to the point of exhaustion or even requiring care themselves.  It is therefore of the utmost importance that friends and family come together as a community to provide assistance when they’ve overexerted themselves.  Here are four concrete and easy ways that you can help a caregiver in your life.

1. Bring them a prepared meal

Oftentimes caregivers are so immersed in the lives of those they are caring for that they neglect to take care of themselves.  Many times a caregiver will skip a meal in order to make time to provide care for their loved one.  One of the best ways to help a caregiver is by bringing a meal. It doesn’t even have to be warm and home-cooked. Just ordering a pizza or even prepared sandwiches can be a huge blessing to a busy, exhausted, and hungry caregiver. Plus, you’re doing more than just feeding their stomach. Knowing you took the time to offer a meal helps provide sorely needed emotional support.

2. Get them out of the house for a while

Your friend or loved one may not admit it, but they need a break. Caregivers work themselves to the bone and will push themselves beyond their limits without a second’s thought. Remind them that they need to take a moment for themselves. Even if it’s just for an evening, take them out to dinner or to see a movie; something that will help them unwind and de-stress from the pressure of needing to be calm and in control. Give them a few hours to remember that they have an identity outside of being a caregiver, and let them re-connect with themselves.

3. Help them with chores or at work

Caregiving can be a full-time job, and many caregivers already have full-time jobs! If your fellow employee is struggling to care for a loved one at home, offer to pick up some of their workload. Can you take on a client for them? Or take care of a few of their tasks? Someone who is providing care at home is likely skipping sleep and meals, while also falling behind at work. Take a little pressure off. It’ll go a long way.

If the caregiver is your neighbor or friend, offer to help out around the house. Wash the dishes, do a few loads of laundry, or take out the garbage. All these menial tasks add up and take time away from the two things your caregiving friend needs most: To keep spending time with their care recipient – or to relax.

4. Send them a letter

It may seem superfluous in the grand scheme of things, but sending a letter or a card can drastically lift someone’s spirits.  It helps to know that people you know love and support you, and there are few that need this more than a family caregiver.

You could even write a letter of love and support to their loved one, helping your friend bring joy and comfort to their care recipient. I remember my Grandmother receiving cards and flowers from so many people; I loved seeing her face light up when something new came to brighten her day. With her spirits lifted, mine lifted as well. Sometimes, she had me read all her cards to her, over and over again.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to ease a loved one through illness and, finally, into passing. Caregivers and their families rely on the support of friends, co-workers, and neighbors – even strangers! A small act of kindness can go a long way when someone is providing end of life care for a loved one.

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