Ways to support a family caregiver
Often, it can be challenging to know just how to support someone close to you who is going through a difficult time. Family caregivers can be experiencing a myriad of emotions that leave them feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, resulting in caregiver stress symptoms. Family caregivers who have reached this level of exhaustion have likely forgone their own mental and physical needs to commit to handling onerous duties for another, and they are doing it around the clock. This self-neglect can have unpleasant consequences.
There are plenty of ways to lend a hand or offer help to the family caregiver in your life. Before you reach out, consider the approach you’re taking. Caregiver stress may be mixed with emotions of worry or fear over the declining health of a loved one, and it is a sensitive time. Caregivers need just as much compassion as they provide, and there are several ways to help lift them up.
It may be easy to look at someone else’s situation and think, “Why don’t they do this differently?” It’s important to remember that you will never know the gravity of someone else’s situation or the weight of their emotions. While you might be tempted to give advice, try offering a non-judgmental space for the caregiver to get some things off their chest. If the caregiver asks you for advice, it’s more than welcome. But if they have not, they may take offense at your words. Unsolicited advice can often feel intrusive or critical, and caregivers are trying their best in their situation. Always offer to be present and listen, but keep your advice filed away until it’s requested.
Some caregivers may ignore their feelings or be too stressed out to discuss them, and they may pass it off as saying everything is okay. It is easy to tell when a close friend or family member is more down than usual, so pay attention to body language as well. Even if they aren’t ready to open up yet, remind them that you know caregiving is a difficult task, and you are there to listen if they ever want to talk.
Fill their shoes
Since family caregivers are often working around the clock to juggle care, jobs, families, or others, there are guaranteed to be times of conflicting schedules. In moments like this, hands-on help can be the greatest gift. If a caregiver turns to you for help, they trust you with their loved one. You might feel the weight of doing these tasks for the first time, and it will give you a greater appreciation for what the caregiver is going through. Be sure to get specific directions for how the caregiver wishes this task to go. The caregiver will be comforted that they had a moment of reprise while knowing the care receiver is still familiar and comfortable with what’s going on. Caregiving can be gratifying, and this act will let you know you’ve made a difference.
If you are not ready to provide hands-on care, try to pick up on other tasks that may be time-consuming for the caregiver. Caregivers tend to miss time for themselves more than anything as they have dedicated most of their current time to help others’ needs. Picking up some groceries, running errands, or just sitting with the care receiver may allow the caregiver some much-needed time to themselves. Even if they are just reading a book, cleaning their house, or getting some rest, this time will be invaluable to them with the comfort of knowing they can count on you.
Family caregivers might not always have the helping hands they always need. For those critical moments, respite care can be a lifesaver. Visiting Angels Crystal Lake offers respite care to Crystal Lake, McHenry, Woodstock, Cary, Barrington, Algonquin, Palatine, Lake Zurich and the surrounding areas. Throughout respite care, the family caregiver continues to care for their loved one with the assistance of an in-home caregiver whenever they need a break. Respite care can help caregivers avoid burnout without having to give up their role in their loved one’s care. Respite care services are often short-term or temporary and allow caregivers room to run errands, take care of themselves, or go on vacation. Learn about how a Visiting Angels Crystal Lake caregiver can add to your quality of life at (815) 479-0312.