Being a caregiver can be emotionally and physically exhausting. If someone you know is taking care of someone who is elderly, disabled or seriously ill, there are many things you can do to help your friend as well as the person she is caring for.
Caregivers often feel out of control or over their heads as they try to balance the demands of their own life and the life of the person they are caring for.
Many caregivers find it difficult to reach out to others or to ask for assistance. So don’t wait for your friend to turn to you for help.
Offering to help in specific ways relieves your friend of the extra burden of thinking of what to ask for. It also allows you to keep control of your schedule so you can willingly volunteer your time and energy.
Here are some things you might offer to do:
1) Make a meal
Well-balanced meals are as important for the caregiver as they are for someone who is elderly, sick or recovering from a serious illness. It doesn’t have to be something fancy. Prepare a double batch of whatever your family is eating.
Deliver it to your friend in disposable containers so he doesn’t have to worry about returning the dish.
2) Do the shopping
You’re going to the store anyway. Offer to pick up whatever your friend needs, or pick up extras of staples you know she typically has in the kitchen and drop them off.
This can be especially helpful around the holidays when stores are crowded and shopping would take the caregiver away from home for a longer time than usual. If your friend is busy when you drop off food items, be sure to put perishables in the refrigerator.
3) Give your friend a break
Having free time can be a tremendous gift for a caregiver. Offer to sit in for an hour or two to give your friend a break. This can make a difference during the holiday season when your friend has gifts to buy and little time to shop.
But don’t set criteria for what your friend should do on her free time. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to leave the house.