When one of your good friends becomes the family caregiver to an elderly parent or loved one, they may begin feeling stressed, overwhelmed and they can experience a plethora of emotions. They might need help, but they’re afraid to ask.
Here are 6 ways you can support a friend as they embark on their family caregiving journey.
Just listen. Your friend may need someone to talk to and share the concerns, frustrations or sadness they may be experiencing. Just listen and allow them to vent their feelings. Many family caregivers often feel very alone, and some can be suffering from depression due to their situation. Listening to them can be the first in helping them feel less isolated.
Offer to be there for whatever they need. Don’t wait for your friend to ask you for help. Ask them “what can I do today to help you.” Caregiving is exhausting and stressful. Helping your friend define what support they need and what specific role you can take on will provide comfort and make a difference.
Help them get organized. For new caregivers especially, it can seem like a daunting task to figure out where to start and how to keep daily tasks organized. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of caregiving and to feel out of control with so much to do. As a friend, you can help them bring the big picture back into focus. Work alongside them to organize their daily routines into a system that will keep them – and anyone else helping with family caregiver responsibilities – stay on track.
Give them your time. Many family caregivers feel locked into a whirlwind of daily routines caring for their loved one, and they have no time for themselves. The greatest gift you can give your friend is the gift of time. Offer to sit with their loved one while your caregiver friend takes a well-deserved break, even if just for a few hours a week.
Help them with research. When you’re the family caregiver, it can feel like there’s not enough time to do everything. Something like researching to find appropriate senior-focused services for the loved one in their care just might be the last thing on their “to do” list. A great way to lend a hand is to do some of the legwork for them and determine the best sources and local services, like Firstlight Home Care, that could assist them in the care of their loved one.
Just be who you are…a friend. Your friend will go through a lot when they become the family caregiver, and they need your friendship now more than ever. The best thing you can do for them is be a friend. Bring over food, send encouraging notes or texts, take them out for a cup of coffee or glass of vino, and don’t exclude them from activities you’re doing just because they’ve declined past invitations. Many caregivers need time to figure out the “new normal” in their lives and it can take time to adjust.
We’ve been there when a friend needs support, and we have found these 6 caregiving tips to be very helpful, and greatly appreciated.
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