The job of the family caregiver comes with the daily reward of knowing you’re doing all you can to care for your aging loved one. It also comes with great responsibility, substantial stress, and the real danger of caregiver burnout.
If you have a friend who is caring for someone in need of constant care, you might feel there is little you can do to help. But there are things you can do to offer relief, support, and reassurance that your friend is not alone.
Here are just a few ideas to help the caregiver in your life avoid caregiver burnout.
No matter how much your friend loves her mom, there will be times when she simply needs to vent her frustrations. Having a nonjudgmental friend to talk to is priceless.
Don’t Just Offer, Insist
Your friend may feel guilty about her need for a break from her caregiving duties. Rather than an open-ended offer to “do whatever you can to help,” make a plan to help and insist on keeping it. You might say “I’m making lunch for your mom on Wednesday while you get your nails done,” or “Your dad and I are having movie night Friday while you have dinner with friends.”
Make Time for Fido
Pets are a blessing in so many ways, but they also are a big responsibility. With aging parents to care for, a caregiver might feel as if they are neglecting the needs of their furry friends. When you arrive for a visit, offer to sit with your friend’s aging loved one while your friend walks her dog, cuddles her cat or even goes to a vet appointment.
Make a Milk Run
Next time you’re at the grocery store, give your friend a call. Does she need milk? Toilet paper? A prescription? The simple act of putting a couple extra items in your cart could save her a lot of hassle. And as a bonus, she’ll appreciate the visit that comes with the delivery.
Double the Batch
Once or twice a week, add a few extra servings to whatever you’re preparing for lunch or dinner and deliver it to your friend. Be aware of any dietary restrictions she or her loved ones might have, and tell her ahead of time so she can enjoy the relief of knowing she doesn’t have to think about preparing a meal that day.
Share Your Skills
Are you a hair stylist, a handyman or maybe a talented gardener? Whatever your talent, consider how you could use it to make your friend’s life a little easier, or maybe a little more beautiful.
Keep the Invites Coming
Social isolation can be a real problem among caregivers who give up time with friends to attend to their parents’ needs. If your friend is unable to join you for lunch or for your weekly game of Bunco, consider bringing the party to her. Or try teaming up with a handful of friends who can take turns sitting with your girlfriend’s parents while she goes for coffee with the gang.
Keep Taking No For An Answer
Whether it’s truly impossible for your friend to accept your invitation or her guilt keeps her from accepting, don’t stop including her in your plans. When she turns you down, don’t act disappointed or irritated. Instead, simply say, “I understand, but I want you to know you are welcome.” She needs to know you still want her at your social gatherings and that even though she’s preoccupied right now, she’s still your friend.
Remind Her That Help is Available
When she feels like she just can't get away, remind the caregiver in your life that companies like Home Helpers can provide her with some welcome relief. Whether it's for an afternoon or an entire vacation, Home Helpers can provide a professional caregiver to treat her loved one just like family.
Sources: Society of Certified Senior Advisors