How can you support caregivers in your life? More than 53 million American adults are providing unpaid care to a loved one. It goes without saying that for most caregivers there are not enough hours in the day. As a friend or family member, there are simple things that you can do that will make a big difference. Be creative, but most importantly, be present for the caregivers in your life!
Ways to Support Caregivers
Communicate Often: Understand that you may have to take the lead in maintaining the relationship. Invite them to join in activities, even if you know they will not go. Regular phone calls, texts, and visits will help to keep the caregiver from feeling isolated. Sending a card, a humorous note, or a small gift from time to time is a great way to brighten their day!
Give Them a Break: Perhaps one of the greatest needs a caregiver has is time to themselves. Offer to sit with their loved one for a couple of hours (longer if you can) so they can recharge their batteries and enjoy some self-care.
Assist in Researching Local Resources: For new caregivers especially, learning about local resources can be overwhelming. Finding local resources that meet their specific needs can be a game-changer! Think meal delivery, respite, transportation, learning opportunities, activities or day programs, support groups, etc.
Help With Day-to-Day Tasks: What may seem like a small, insignificant task to you, could be a mountainous task to an overwhelmed caregiver. Ask for specific ways you can help. Helping with things like lawn maintenance, meal preparation, and housekeeping are great ways to pitch in, but even something as simple as pulling in the trash can on collection day or taking the dog for a walk can make a big difference. This is also a great way to get younger helpers involved!
Run Errands: Running simple errands, picking up groceries or prescriptions, or providing transportation are all great ways to support caregivers by freeing up some precious time.
Be present: It’s easy to slip into the background when you don’t know what to do or say. Stay present with caregivers in your life. Listen without judgment and be careful not to give unsolicited advice. Words of encouragement, praise, and acknowledgment of the difficulty of caring for a loved one will go a long way in helping them to feel supported.
These are just a few of the many ways you can show up for the caregivers in your life. The bottom line is that your presence and kind gestures will make a difference!
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.