CaringBridge Staff | 02.07.22
Being a caregiver is a challenging, often exhausting task. If a caregiver is working with someone who has long-term needs, this becomes especially true. Assisting with medical care, food preparation, transportation…the list of caregiver responsibilities can go on and on.
Even if they haven’t asked for it, caregivers need our love and support. Opportunities exist, both big and small, to make their experience just a little bit easier. In this article, we share helpful ideas to support the caregivers in your life.
1. Give Them a (Much Needed) Break
As mentioned above, caregiving can be exhausting. Recent research from the AARP shows that 40% of caregivers feel emotionally stressed, and 20% feel physically strained.
A good place to start helping caregivers is simply giving them time off, time they can spend caring for themselves. Offer to hold down the fort for a day, if you’re able. Or consider asking if you can hire a private nurse for a few hours. Whatever you’re able to do to give them a break will be much appreciated.
2. Show Up for Them
Mother Teresa wisely says, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” So show up for your loved one. Swing by their house for a walk, or pick up the phone and call. However you choose to show up, let them know that you care and are there for them, no matter what. We are stronger when we have support.
Tip: Consider sending them a handwritten card or thoughtful email that they can look back on. If you’re not sure what to write, these inspirational caregiver quotes are a good place to start!
Caregivers may feel like people don’t care about what they’re going through, or at the very least don’t understand. Sometimes your loved one might just need a listening ear to talk through what they’re experiencing.
Focus on listening to them without judgment or interruption. It’s a gesture that might feel small, but ultimately speaks volumes.
4. Share Information on Support Groups
Without proper support, caregiving can feel lonely and isolating. Fortunately, multiple types of support groups exist – both online or in-person. These groups offer a place for caregivers to share expertise, concerns or experiences in a safe, supportive environment. Help your loved one by connecting them with a group, or offer to join them for a meeting.
Tip: If this sounds like it could be helpful for your loved one, check out our article on caregiver support groups. We share tips on how to choose the right group, plus options for both online and in-person support groups.
5. Help with the Day-to-Day
Managing a person’s care may already be a full-time job for some caregivers. Add day-to-day tasks like cooking and cleaning, and it’s easy to see how one could feel overwhelmed.
You can relieve that burden by offering to help with some of life’s daily needs. Bring over homemade meals or send gift cards to favorite restaurants. Shovel their driveway. Offer to walk their dogs. All these tasks add up when going it alone, but even knocking off just one from the to-do list can provide relief.
6. Raise Money for Everyday Needs on GoFundMe
Did you know that one in five caregivers experience significant financial strain as a result of providing care? Many times they are also responsible for their loved one’s healthcare costs. Essentials like groceries, childcare, eating out, and much more can also start to add up over time, which is why offering financial support can be so very helpful.
There are many ways to help cover caregiving costs. For example, starting a fundraiser to help with something specific like a car payment or rent, or something more general like monthly bills or wellbeing. Consider asking your loved one where the costs add up the most, so you can be sure your gift is making the most impact.
To fundraise for a caregiver, you can start a GoFundMe and connect it to a CaringBridge site. CaringBridge sites and GoFundMes are often set up by friends and family of patients and caregivers. Using our GoFundMe integration is a great way to allow a caregiver’s network of loved ones to easily donate, spread the word, and become more involved in their life. Depending on the caregiver’s needs, you can start a GoFundMe for specific tasks or for more broad needs. Whether it be raising money for a self-care weekend or for a month’s worth of groceries, this is an incredibly meaningful way to give back to a caregiver.
How Do You Support the Caregivers In Your Life?
Doing any one of these things for your loved one is a thoughtful gesture that truly will make a difference. Now we’d like to hear from you: What ways do you show love and support to the caregivers in your life? Or if you’re a caregiver, what would be most helpful? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments below!