My husband was my caregiver when I was sick. He did things I never thought I would ask him to do. He stayed up with me when I could not sleep, cooked, cleaned and made sure I took my medicine on time and was safe when I was a patient in the hospital or at the clinic. He kept my records and spoke on my behalf when needed. He was my advocate, and for that, I owe him so much.
- Call the caregiver to find out how they are doing? Don't assume they are ok. Checking in from time to time allows them to know someone is thinking about them. It also gives them the knowledge to know who they can reach out to when they need help.
- Suggest the caregiver takes a break. Suggest they ask a family member or friend to visit so they can get their hair cut or go food shopping. Many people don’t want to burden someone else with caregiving duties, but many people do want to help but don’t know how. Giving caregiver permission to ask for help is something a healthcare professional can do.
- If they have to work, help them to find assistance in the community or from home care agency. Home care services can be very expensive, so negotiating rates when possible can be a help. Finding resources is a challenge for the most experienced healthcare professional so you can imagine how hard it is for a caregiver who does not know the system. Help is always appreciated.
- Caregivers need to know there is the help available to assist you and ensure your voice, as well as the patient's voice, is heard. Today there are professionals who patients and caregivers can hire to help them with research, finding resources or deciding on a plan of care. These professionals are called Patient or Health Advocates, and they are in place to assist the patient and the caregiver. They are paid for privately but can be worth their weight in gold for those who have complex medical needs or feel lost in the system. Here is a link to learn more about this service.
- Encourage caregivers to take time to talk to a friend or family member about the stress you feel as a caregiver. Talking allows you to express your fears and frustrations. Again, many people want to help, but do not know what to do. Having someone to listen can be a gift to a caregiver.
- Visit the National Alliance for Caregiving. They have some useful information that might help you handle the stress of caregiving. Click here to view the website.
- Caring for the Caregiver: has some resources and videos that can help you handle the role of being a caregiver. Click here to access the website.
- Children today also care for an ill, injured, elderly or physically challenged family members. An excellent resource to help understand this role is the American Association of Caregiving Youth. To access click here.
- NPR Podcast: Kids as caregiver's face unique challenges. To listen click here