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Caregivers need care too: 3 ways to help

Try these tips to lend a hand and show your support

Caregiving is an act of love. It’s also frequently a round-the-clock job — and one that can be overwhelming without the support of family and friends.

Often, caregivers are so busy caring for others that they neglect their own health and needs. That’s why lending a hand can mean so much. 

3 ways to show a caregiver you care

Do you know a family caregiver? Maybe your friend’s spouse is a wounded warrior. Perhaps your cousin has a child with special needs. Or you may have a neighbor who’s caring for her seriously ill partner.

And like many people, you may wonder how you might help. Here are three ways to offer your support: 

1. Be specific with your offers. As sincere as you are when you say, “Call me if you need anything,” you may never hear back. It’s not that caregivers don’t need help. But it may put the burden on them to figure out what you wouldn’t mind doing. Instead, try more specific suggestions, such as:

  • I’m headed to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?
  • I’m free Friday morning. Can I take over for you so you can have a break?
  • I’m just hanging out this weekend. How about I repair that storm door? Or put up your holiday lights?
  • I’m in the mood to cook. Can I drop off dinner tonight?

2. Be a friend. Caregivers can become isolated as their worlds often revolve around their important duties. They are likely busy and may be feeling overwhelmed. So you might find it hard to make a connection at first. Be patient and don’t give up. A caring buddy might be just the boost a caregiver needs.

If it’s possible for your friend to get out, you might suggest seeing a movie or getting a quick bite — your treat. Or ask if you can stop by with a fresh-brewed coffee or other favorite treat sometime. But be understanding if you hear, “This isn’t a good time.”

And in between visits, stay in touch with phone calls, emails, texts or a surprise I’m-thinking-of-you card. Every gesture says, “I’m here for you.”

3. Be a good listener. Acknowledge that caretaking is a tough job. But don’t try to solve every problem — just be there to listen. If a caring friend has ever eased your burden with a sympathetic ear, you know what a comfort that is.

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