#1 – Give them a break! Yes, everybody needs a break, especially caregivers. Stop by and physically relieve them and allow them to get some much-needed time away. They need breaks to go to the doctor, run errands, go on vacation, or simply to get away from the mental stress that comes with caregiving.
#2 – If you’re going to give a caregiver a break, learn the needs of their patient. Knowing how to care for their patient, while they’re on break, is very important. Not only for the safety of the patient, but for the peace of mind of the caregiver. Learn about the patient’s medicine, if they need help moving around, their daily routine, and more. Knowing these simple details will help the caregiver be more confident in leaving you alone with their patient and allow them to fully enjoy their time away.
#3 – Listen to them. Imagine being home all day taking care of someone that may or may not be able to fully engage in a conversation with you. Isolation is a very real issue for family caregivers so when you come around take the time to simply listen. Ask them how their day was and listen to their needs. Allow them to vent their frustrations, gripe, or complain. Listening is a skill that takes focus and concern. Don’t be judgmental or give your opinion . . . just listen!
#4 – Respect the caregiver. Caregiving is not an easy task. Family caregivers give away millions of dollars’ worth of free care to their loved ones. And as we stated before, caregivers spend at least 20 hours a week tending to their loved ones. This is a real job and caregivers wear many hats to perform it. They have to be a cook, a housekeeper, a nurse, and the list goes on and on.
And #5; the most important way to support a family caregiver is to be concerned for their health. Many caregivers fail to give themselves the care and attention they need to live a healthy life. They fall into depression and sickness because they’re taking better care of their loved ones than themselves. Be concerned for their health. Bring them nutritious food, make sure they take their own medicine and help them live their best life.
Janice Williams RN.