5 Thoughtful Ways to Help a Caregiver

Almost everyone knows at least one person who is a primary caregiver for a loved one. Most of us understand how difficult and draining it is to be responsible for someone else’s care. We want to help the caregivers in our lives in some way that will make them feel less overwhelmed and less alone. But figuring out how to help isn’t always that easy.

We can tell people we want to help, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take us up on the offer. Lots of folks simply do not feel comfortable asking for help. They may not know what to ask for or even how to ask. It could also be that having outside people around upsets the day-to-day routine or flow of a household where a member is not well.

Here are some suggestions to think about next time you want to offer your help to someone who is a caregiver.

A few useful suggestions…

  • Be as specific as possible. Try not to offer help in a general way with an open statement like “Let me know if I can help out.” Instead, offer something specific. For example… if you are going to the grocery store or pharmacy, give the caregiver a call and ask if you can big up any items or prescriptions for the person.

  • Be specific about when you can help. If you know you’ll have some free time coming up, let the caregiver know in advance exactly when you’ll be available. Say something like “I’ll be around all afternoon on Saturday. I’d love to come over and pitch in for a while.”

  • Take over a chore you can do independently. There are plenty of ways to help out without interfering with the life of the caregiver’s household. If you live nearby and are mowing your lawn, take the opportunity to do theirs as well. If you’re going for a walk with your dog, offer to bring theirs along too.

  • Make a meal. Double up when cooking. Give the caregiver a call and say you’ll be stopping by quickly to drop off a meal. Don’t invite yourself in. Just hand over the meal and be on your way. You could even begin a schedule of weekly meal deliveries.

  • Leave gifts. Every now and then, think of something the caregiver might enjoy and leave it by the door with a short, supportive note. Try to be creative and personal. If you know the caregiver enjoys  puzzles, drop off a Sudoku or crossword book. If the person loves a certain kind of flower, leave a bunch.

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