Caring for the Caregiver

Published In Blog

Caregiving can take a toll on all those who love and care for the older loved one in need of help. Perhaps those who are quickly forgotten are the spouses, children and friends of the caregiver who find themselves having to change their lives almost as much as the caregiver herself or himself. Suddenly that pivotal person in their lives is really, really busy. Our day-to-day life changes and we stretch ourselves to do more for us and other family members. So how do we make the most out of this challenging situation? I truly believe you need to become a partner in the caregiving process and be a strong supporter of the main caregiver.

Lay Those Bad Feelings Down

It would take a saint not to feel some resentment when that significant other, mom, spouse or best friend is suddenly missing from your life. Now is not the time to wallow in resentment or frustration. Now is the time to put on your big girl or big boy pants and step up. Do what it takes to support the important person in your life. Be the cheerleader, the coach when approached, the back-up player whenever needed. Once you walk a mile in those moccasins you will have a lot more compassion for what your loved one is going through.

Where Can You Help and What Can You Do?

First realize that this is probably going to be a short season of life. Caring for an older loved one does not last forever. Life is full of changes and they will come. Secondly, look for the stressors your loved one has been facing as the primary caregiver. Usually they just need a little time off but everyone is different.

  1. Bring a meal over.
  2. Run to the store for needed items.
  3. Mom-sit or Dad-sit.
  4. Give that caregiver a full weekend off.
  5. Pay for a little in-home care.
  6. Take them to lunch and arrange for a temporary caregiver.
  7. Call them often but keep conversations short.
  8. Let them vent without trying to fix the problem.
  9. Let their other friends know they are needed.

Do not take their absence personally. They are struggling through a very tough time and doing a very important job. Love them. Feed them when you can. Let them take a nap when you can help. Treat them to a manicure or buy them some of their favorite music. Make them feel your love. Small acts say a million “I love you’s.” When in doubt, ask them what you can do to make it better. Tell them often how wonderful they are for doing an amazing and important job. Kudos never hurt!

(This article has been updated March 2024 since it originally published on September 2016.)

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