To say that family caretakers, or those that take on the necessary care for their aging loved ones, have a enormous responsibility is an understatement – caretakers manage a huge amount of responsibility on top of their already-busy lives. In the face of this, it can be incredibly difficult to ask for help, especially when feeling too overwhelmed to even know what they need help with! If you are a part of a support system for a caretaker, whether friend, family member, or neighbor, here are four ways to support a caretaker according to aarp.org.
- Give them the gift of time. Often, family caregivers let things slip through the cracks when it comes to their own self-care – running errands to the grocery store, bank, salon, whatever it may be. A great way to offer support for the caretaker is to give them time to do the things they need… offer to give them an hour here or there as a reprieve from their normal responsibilities.
- A listening ear works wonders. Sometimes, you just need to let it all out. Lending a listening ear to someone can relieve stress on the caregiver without needing to provide solutions or judgments.
- Dig Deeper. Sometimes, the easiest answer to the question, “How are you doing?” is “Fine.” But it may or may not be the most accurate answer – especially if the caregiver is feeling particularly overwhelmed and wants to avoid overwhelming others. Offer understanding and open an invitation to the caregiver to share with you if need be… it may take a little while, but knowing that someone truly cares makes a huge impact.
- Be willing to adapt to their needs. What you might see as a pressing need which you can provide a solution to may be on the very bottom of the caregivers list of things to do. Listen to their requests and be open to changing your plans when coming to help them out.