Chances are, you have someone in your life who is curently caring for a loved one living with memory impairment. Caregiver stress affects one in three people in the U.S. and can lead to a variety of conditions such as isolation, poor health, and depression. It’s never too early to help make a difference – in fact, the sooner a caregiver has access to resources that can help them get a break, like respite care, the better they’ll be able to care for their loved one in the long run. Basically, if you know how to be a good friend, you have the power to help a caregiver.
To connect with a professional, call Lifespan’s Finger Lakes Caregiver Institute at 1-844-249-7126.
10 Ways to Help a Caregiver
While there are many ways you can help a caregiver in your life, they may be reluctant to accept help right away. You can decide what is right for you. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Help them identify responsibilities and acknowledge how much they are doing. Reinforce that, though it may be uncomfortable, it is vital to ask for help and have a respite plan.
- Ask about their well-being and express concerns. Are they getting proper rest, exercise, good nutrition, and time for social activities?
- Assist them with practical tasks such as filling out paperwork, making phone calls, running errands, accompanying them to appointments, staying with their loved one to give them a break, or preparing a meal.
- Listen. Let a caregiver talk about his or her frustration, worry, and sadness. Provide reassurance that it is normal to have these feelings. Encourage the caregiver to be honest about how they are doing.
- Create a calendar to help a caregiver balance basic social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and spiritual activities.
- Be there. Your presence is often the most important support. Set a reminder on your calendar to regularly call or check in.
- Laughter is a stress-reliever and “good medicine.” Brighten a caregiver’s day by watching a funny movie together or talking about humorous things you have heard or seen recently.
- Watch for signs of burnout, stress, and/or depression. Ask what helps them cope and help them make these activities a priority. Or, encourage them to seek professional help if things become too overwhelming.
- Remind them often that they are doing a great job.
- Ask if they have worked with a care manager to develop a plan to get a break. That plan should be in place before it is actually needed.
If you know a caregiver, you know a caregiver who needs help.
For more information, call Lifespan’s Finger Lakes Caregiver Institute at 1-844-249-7126.
Links to additional resources
How to Help a Caregiver, Mayo Clinic
Caregiver Resource Center, AARP
Caregiver Consultation, Eldersource
Care Navigation and Planning, Lifespan
Powerful Tools for Caregivers Sessions
Respite Care, Alzheimer’s Association
Caregiver Center, Alzheimer’s Association
Taking Care of You, Family Caregiver Alliance