How can I help a caregiver?
You can help a caregiver by offering to do chores like cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work, childcare, eldercare, and driving them around or doing errands for them. You can also help them by maintaining contact with them; calling, texting, and visiting. Social interaction is essential for caregivers, who usually feel isolated from their friend and family. Spending time with people other than whom their caring for, and even being by themselves for a while can do wonders for a caregiver’s mental health. Make sure they go out and are physically active.
If you really want to know how to help a caregiver though, the key is to actually have something to offer. This is a case where it’s not just the thought that counts. A too open-ended proposal will amount to nothing because the caregiver may be afraid to ask too much, or too little. You need to be very specific in order to avoid this. For instance, you can ask them if they need anything from the store, offer to relieve them from their post for a couple of hours during your spare time, pick up their laundry and bring it back clean, perform tasks on the weekend, bring over extra food, and so on and so forth.
A more intangible way to help is to be patient and available. This not only applies to elderly patients but also to many other conditions such as children with Asperger, disabled patients due to accidents and more. The caregiver themselves may give you the misleading impression that they neither need nor want your help; mainly because they don’t ask for it or flatly refuse when you offer it. However, if you humor them and leave them to their own devices, then you’re really doing them a disservice. Keep in mind that they may change their mind sooner or later, or simply become too overwhelmed to be able to afford not to accept your assistance.
You just can’t take no for an answer if you’re determined to be of any use to a caregiver. And if at any given point you feel that trying to help them is a thankless job, then you may be starting to understand how they feel. Caregivers can be very prone to irritability, anger, exhaustion, social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression. They may resent that they single-handedly carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and simultaneously accept it as what is expected of them. Sometimes, they need to be politely reminded that they can’t, and don’t have to, go it alone. They might misconstrue this as you telling them their not doing a good job, but hopefully they will understand that caregivers too need care if they want to succeed.
Related Read: The Role of a Caregiver