Caring for a Caregiver


According to the CDC, unpaid caregivers provide more than $470 billion each year in support to their loved ones. This is an incredible amount of work that is taxing not only to a caregiver’s physical and mental health, but their bottom line as well. If you know someone who is providing care to a loved one, and you want to help, then you aren’t alone. Often, when family caregivers are asked to let someone know if they need anything, they rarely do. This is common, because many caregivers don’t know how to ask for help, especially if it isn’t defined. Additionally, many caregivers feel guilty about needing help or taking time away from others. If you are interested in learning how to provide care to a family caregiver, then this article will give you some tips and tricks that can help.

It's Time to Get Specific

If you’ve ever planned a party, then you know that there are many people who say, “let me know if you need any help.” The problem is, that while you would gladly take their help, you aren’t sure if asking those people to do certain things is appropriate or something that they would be willing to do. If we flip the coin, however, and the same person said, “here let me take care of the guest list for you.” You would gladly accept their assistance. The difference is the specificity of the statement. The first thing we can do if we want to care for a family caregiver, is to get specific about what we are willing to do to help them. Examples might include:

  • “I have to go to the grocery store, while I’m there why don’t you let me take care of your list too?”
  • “I’m on my way to do errands, do you need me to run to the pharmacy for you?”
  • “I have a few extra hours of time off from my job this week, why don’t you let me visit with our loved one while you go get some ‘me’ time?”
  • “Would you like to go grab a cup of coffee?”

If you are specific with the kind of assistance you are wanting to provide, you may find that the caregiver in your life is much more willing to accept help.

Emotions and Walks

Sometimes the best help you can give the caregiver in your life is a simple break. This includes both emotional breaks, and physical distance away from their loved one to get the mind and body juices rejuvenated. If you see a caregiver with typical signs of exhaustion such as fatigue, differences in weight, or attitude shifts, then you may simply want to offer them a break. Just like our example above though, you may need to be very specific. A way to do this might be to ask the caregiver to go on a walk with you 2 or 3 times per week, or join you in an exercise class. Take advantage of your time together, and let them vent, talk, and share their emotions. It will help them feel better, both inside and outside.

Provide Support Behind the Scenes

If the caregiver you are looking to support doesn’t allow you to help out as much as you would like, you can simply arrange to provide support behind the scenes. An example of this might include simply dropping by and checking in. If you are wanting to care for a caregiver and don’t have a lot of extra time, consider financial support. According to the CDC, the average annual out-of-pocket cost for caregivers is $7,200 which goes towards services, meals, medical supplies, and more. Consider paying for a certain number of additional hours of respite care assistance so the caregiver in your life can go to the doctor, take a break, and have the rest they need.

Research and Organization

Often, family members are thrust into the role of caregiving. Life is fine one moment, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, they are simply doing the best they can to stop everything from sliding off of their plate. This leaves very little time for research into support groups for themselves, which can give them much needed wisdom, insight, and support for whatever they are facing. It might be helpful to research local support groups and offer to go with your caregiver so that they can have the added benefit of the experience others have to share.

If the caregiver you want to care for is new to the role of caring for their loved one, their responsibilities may start to slip. You can help with this by providing organizational tips and taking over responsibilities they no longer have time for. An example might be doing the morning drop-offs for the kids, or helping to prep meals on the weekend.

Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Woodbridge is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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