When caregivers hear these age-old phrases—“How can I help?” or “Let me know if I can do anything!”—just the thought of coming up with helpful tasks feels like extra work, which makes answering in the moment stressful. So when someone makes those well-intentioned yet ambiguous offers, don’t cringe: send them this list!
On the other hand, if someone sent this link in response to your inquiry, THANK YOU for your offer! Seriously, it means the world that you not only see the day-to-day struggles of caregivers, but that you also want to help. Here are 5 ways you can lighten the load for the caregiver in your life:
An oldie but a goodie: make a meal! Or make a couple of meals and freeze them for me to stack in my freezer. Planning meals is often the last thing I want to squeeze into my busy day, and this leads to lots of unhealthy dinners like frozen pizzas, or skipping meals altogether.
Offer to sit with the person for whom I care for a few hours while I run errands. Don’t feel comfortable with that? Just stop by for a visit when I’m there (if we’re all up for visitors that day)! Caregiving can be extremely lonely, so it’s a huge help to see friendly faces and welcome visitors! It’s equally as refreshing to have someone take over so I can get a few items checked off my to-do list.
If you really want to do something of monetary value for me, a gift card to a gas station is always incredibly helpful and appreciated! There’s a lot of driving involved in caregiving, and it adds up.
With online shopping becoming such a trend, this would be an easy but huge way to help! If I order and pay for my groceries online, and can choose a pickup time that would work for you, it would save me a trip and a lot of planning.
Offer to update others when something big happens. This one is sort of tricky, but can be super helpful. Key word here is “offer.” Never give updates on my caregiving life without checking with me first. But if you know something big just happened (new diagnosis, a fall, change of living situation or school depending on age, a death or similar big loss/change in the family, etc.), ask me if I’d like you to be in charge of letting others know.
Key word here is “offer.” Never give updates on my caregiving life without checking with me first.
Who are those “others” needing an update? Those are the people who should be updated, but don’t need to hear it from me directly: i.e. my pastor, neighbors, boss/coworkers, friends I haven’t talked to in a while, etc.
It is emotionally exhausting to repeat the same information—especially bad news—over and over again, so having someone offer to take on that task is a source of incredible relief.
And there you have it! Five simple ways to help a caregiver whose life is busy, busy, busy. Pass this on to others who are looking for ways they can help, and let us know if you’d add anything to this list by commenting below. We love hearing from you!