Ten Best Ways to Acknowledge the Family Caregiver.

Nowadays many families experience a situation in which one or more members find themselves in the position of caregiver.  And it’s Christmas.  What better time to offer the gift of a helping hand.

Most people want to help, they just have no idea what to offer in view of their own time constraints.

If you really want to make a caregiver’s day, here are ten ways to do that.

  • Before you call with offers of help, check your own schedule so that you know before hand when you can deliver on these offers.  Never arrange for deliveries or visits during a caregiver’s respite time.

  • Be specific. If you are sincere, saying If you need anything just call me, is not helpful.  Decide what you are willing to provide: time sitting with the patient? Meals?  Baking? Help with housecleaning or other chores?  Running errands?

  • Bring or send flowers. Flowers brighten up any space, cheer up a sick room, and are a beautiful reminder that somebody loves you.

  • Phone first.  Arrange the visit for a time when you can stay at least half an hour.  Do not stay more than one hour. Visit with the person being cared for to take that responsibility out of the care giver’s hands.

  • If you are the care giver’s friend, stop and say a few words to the ‘patient’, and then continue your visit in another room with the caregiver.  This allows the caregiver to vent if necessary.

  •  If you live far away or are busy building a career and can’t help physically then send flowers, money or a gift card.  Or arrange for a housekeeping service to come in once a week or twice a month.

  • Express appreciation. If you’re related to the person being cared for?  Be grateful.  And show it.  Remember that old saying?  But for the grace of God… Praise is sincere and nice to hear. It costs nothing and can make someone feel much better.

  • Be reliable. If you say you will help in some way, do so and do it at the time you stated.  Caregivers are often weary, sometimes lonely and always overwhelmed, so be the bright, steady star in their lives—show up when you say you will.  Bring what you said you would bring.  And along with it?  Your cheerful, smiling face.

  • Keep in touch. Caregivers often get left out of the family loop because they can’t get away to visit with relatives and friends, attend family events like birthdays and anniversaries and even casual get togethers.  Phone them.  Text them.  Keep up with their facebook page. Let them know they are not alone in this.

  • If you’re internet savvy, offer to do on-line research for them. Maybe they need to find the palliative care/hospice alternatives in their community, or the parameters for these kinds of care.  Maybe they’d like to know more about certain medications, or even caregiver associations or Red Cross equipment depots in their area.

  • Keep your own troubles away. Caregivers have enough to bear. If you’re visiting because you want a sympathetic ear, stay home. Find a counsellour or a different friend to confide in.  Bring only your best face to the care home.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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