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You Know Best: Caregiving Advice from Caregivers

There’s nothing like a little experience to give one perspective. We regularly hear from family caregivers and some care receivers who have insight, wisdom, tips, and most of all, kindness to share with others who are also posting comments on our articles. In case you missed their gems, we’re sharing some of our favorites here too:

“Just a little help goes a long way.”

Yes, it does! Whether you’re 29 or 99, a little help does a go long way towards lightening a load—maybe in reducing stress or fatigue or items on the task list. Some family caregivers can coordinate with a network of loved ones to care for an elder, while others benefit from hiring a professional to step in for them from time to time. Professional caregiving, or giving a family caregiver a break thanks to another family member or friend, can be done in small increments, such as a couple of hours per week.

One woman who does use professional in home care said, “Amazing how 10 hours a week makes so much difference.”

“The most important thing is to ask for help before it’s too late.”

Well, it depends on the circumstances when it comes to deciding “the most important thing,” but we agree that preventing stress is better than being stressed out. The Caregiver Action Network notes that the “stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.” In other words, you can’t continue to provide care for someone else if you don’t care for yourself too.

Helpers Can Accept Help

One reader/commenter shared this: “My thought is that people who had a value of volunteering and did so are more accepting than those who kept to themselves.”

Or, this more practical person explains how to just go ahead and get comfortable with a little help: “Accept all the help you are offered. Go through the house and make a list of little things you need done but sometime don’t have time to do. Put this list on the refrigerator. When someone asks, ‘What can I do to help you?’, simply refer them to the list on the refrigerator. They can do one or all or some.”

It can be all about word choice when it comes to helping someone, and possibly making it easier to accept: “Asking ‘if you need help’ is telling that person to ask for help, still putting them in a position of dependence. Try phrasing it as, ‘I’m coming for coffee on [day] and to fix you dinner.’ While you are there, fix a couple of things for the freezer. Make it a get together, just something a caring friend/child/neighbor would do rather than, ‘you are failing at this home owner thing’….it’s about dignity.”


Of course, caring is good but this is a list of what not to do, from one reader:

Do not Criticize

Do not Argue

Do not Reason

Do not Explain

“It doesn’t do them any good and can increase their agitation,” she adds.

Humor, Don’t Lose It

One woman shared her humble pie moment:

That makes me think of visiting my grandmother when I was in my late twenties and she was in her seventies. As she was getting ready to go up the steps to her apartment, I said, ‘Hold on a minute, Grandmother, so I can help you.’ With that, I tripped on the stairs and fell forward. My husband, not typically a humorous man, said, ‘Grandmother, would you please help Carole up the stairs?’ LOL! Never think age is the defining factor in who needs help.”

Please keep sharing your wonderful stories and guidance for others who are looking for solutions too.

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