5 Ways To Care For A Caregiver

The very act of putting another person’s needs first inherently means caregivers continually push their own needs aside. Depression, sickness, and even early death are realities for caregivers. Approximately 30% die before the loved one receiving care.


In the U.S., the number of caregivers has increased 10 million in just five years from 2015 to 2020. While women tend to take on the role disproportionately more than men, caregiving touches everyone, even millennials.


Caregiving has no timelines or exact instructions. Supporting caregivers, whether it’s for a day or years, can make an immeasurable difference. Perhaps you can help support caregivers when they need it most.



1) Lend a moment to listen

Caregiving may feel like a solitary pursuit some days; other times, a caregiver may be frustrated over a decision or new problem. Sometimes, there isn’t anything specific to solve other than to lend an ear. Because caregiving takes time away from friends and social connections, caregivers may slowly lose meaningful, reliable relationships.


Family members who live far away may also have no real understanding about the endless demands or added responsibilities facing a caregiver. Or they may simply be too busy in their own lives to check in.


If you know a friend or family member who is a primary caregiver, take a moment to listen—especially if they’re reaching out to you just to vent. What do you hear?



2) Be sensitive and insightful

Caregivers are at a time in life that is consumed by the necessary and practical. Household chores, keeping finances, contacting doctors, running errands, planning meals and more. Their life is centered around another person as well as trying to manage their own life.


Dreams don’t stop; they are put on hold. Families adjust or sacrifice. Keep this general landscape in mind when thinking about a caregiver. A short phone call to share an uplifting thought or a practical food tip can go a long way. An hour-long conversation about your latest, greatest vacation or dropping in unannounced may only feel like another burden in a busy schedule.



3) Connect a tired caregiver

Caregivers may refuse help, even when it’s clear they need help. Whether they feel fully responsible or don’t want to be a burden to others, caregivers may continually insist they are fine or don’t need support. What can you do then?


Be a resource until they do ask for help. One friend attended a seminar and gathered all the materials about hospice and home health. She gave them to her caregiving friend as a future resource in case she needed them. Another friend gave her gift certificates for a meal prep business right down the street from her house. Instead of waiting for her tired friend to ask for help with meals, she gave her the power to solve one daily task without intruding.



4) Get creative

Let your creativity guide you. With technology, we’re able to move beyond brick-and-mortar boundaries. Perhaps your caretaking friend can’t make the monthly book club in person because there’s no sitter, but they can join via Zoom. Or maybe the evenings are a terrible time for visiting, but afternoon coffee on their front porch works better.


With podcasts, streaming, subscriptions and entertainment available on demand, cultivating a hobby or interest—even while confined—has never been more possible. Moreover, a new hobby that’s self-guided can be done in their own time and boosts a sense of accomplishment or meaning.


It’s difficult for a caregiver to feel involved in the larger world when all their daily tasks revolve so close to home. Perhaps they’ve always been part of a civic club or volunteer group. While being careful not to add more work to their world, they may welcome being part of a community effort or event. Maybe it’s only addressing envelopes or making decorations or calling members, but it’s a task that they can manage and leads them to feel included.



5) Talk with a close friend, family member

Does the caregiver already rely on a friend or family member? If so, reach out to them and ask their advice. They may have a suggestion that’s not readily apparent to someone outside of the family. Needs change especially if a loved one is hospitalized or experiencing new health problems.


Caregivers are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, which may be temporary or long term. These are our sisters, mothers, fathers and neighbors. Whatever their reality, supporting caregivers begins in our own hearts and minds as we share our strength and support.



Source: aarp.com