All too often, caregivers are overworked, with some dangerously teetering on the edge of caregiver burnout. If a family member or friend is willing to offer a little extra help – don’t say no. Take the opportunity and learn to accept a helping hand, even if you think you don’t need it!
For those looking to offer some extra assistance to a caregiver in need, here are a few simple ways to help a caregiver.
Physically helping out with the most simple of tasks is often a massive relief for caregivers. Actively getting involved in day-to-day tasks can relieve stress for many exhausted caregivers. Some easy ways to extend a helping hand include:
- Preparing a week’s worth of meals and freezing them
- Cooking a fresh meal and treating both the caregiver and care receiver
- Home maintenance i.e. mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, dog walking, cleaning the kitchen or bathrooms
- Doing the grocery shopping
- Running errands
- Helping with doctor’s appointments and advocating on the care receiver’s behalf
- Staying with a patient for a full weekend, allowing a caregiver more than a few hours break
Ask with Meaning
Instead of beginning a sentence with ‘’Let me know’’, try asking exactly what you can help with to make a caregiver’s life easier. Don’t delay your offer to help, if you have the capacity to ask and help out straight away, then do it!
If a caregiver does not require any immediate help with anything, then take some time simply to visit and make a list of the most pressing items they do need help with each week. Sitting down and taking the time to ask will also help a caregiver recognise where they need help, instead of consistently turning help away.
Facilitate Self Care
A caregiver’s number one priority is never themselves or their own health, but rather, that of their loved one or elderly patient. Be aware of this and be the one to facilitate self-care with a caregiver. Remind them it is ok to take day off, to look after their health and make themselves a priority. If you believe a caregiver’s physical or psychological health needs attention, then take action by enlisting the help of other friends and family members and encourage them to look after themselves!
This is as simple as including a friend or family member that is a caregiver in everyday events, such as inviting them for coffee, lunch or dinner. Arrange alternative care for the day or afternoon so that they can join you. Even if they turn you down, time and time again, it’s still important to make sure they are included and know that you care!
Listen and Observe
If a caregiver needs a shoulder to cry on, be there for them. At times, a caregiver may just need to vent a little – you don’t even need to offer meaningful advice in this instance. It is just enough to listen. Many caregivers suffer from bouts of depression, so having someone to talk to, who will truly listen and understand is incredibly helpful.
Along with this, it’s also important to keep an eye on a caregiver’s behaviour over time. Observe how they appear in social events, observe how often they communicate, observe their appearance. If any of these things change, it could be time to approach them and offer an alternative means of help.
One of the best things you can do to help a caregiver is frequently remind them you are available to help. Let them know you are just a phone call away and remind them that they are cared for and valued. This could go a long way to helping a caregiver improve their own quality of life.