How Others Can Help You As A Caregiver

How Others Can Help You As A Caregiver

While there must be 50 ways to leave your lover (according to Paul Simon), there are easily more than 50 ways you can be helped as a caregiver.

For those of you who are or have already been caregivers, you could put a list together in less time than it would take to look up Paul Simon! For those of you who have not yet had your turn as a caregiver, you can simply draw on those who have.

Do you find it hard to ask for help? Or when people say “Just tell me what I can do to help”, do you go blank? At Elizz, we use the 5 LifeStages of Caregiving to describe the caregiving journey.  Based on the amount of hours spent on caregiving tasks and activities, the 5 LifeStages are: Helping, Involved, Intensive, All-Encompassing, and Closing.  You can benefit from support and help at all 5 LifeStages.  Here are some suggestions you can draw on for support and help when others ask “Can I help?” Some of these suggestions are to help with caregiving tasks and activities and others are to help you in your life outside of caregiving, and others again focus on your self care.

Food

  1. Drop off a meal. Even better, if there is enough for leftovers, consider packing it up so that it can be frozen and thawed for a quick and easy meal at their convenience.
  2. Invite us over for a meal.
  3. Take us out for a meal.
  4. Start a food chain with others interested and willing to help.
  5. Call or text when you are going to the grocery store and offer to pick up and drop off any items we may need.
  6. Double your baking recipe.
  7. Give a gift certificate for a local restaurant or their favourite fast food or beverage. Which coffee is better? Tim’s? Starbucks? Second Cup? …we aren’t touching that subject with a ten foot pole!
  8. Arrange for prepared meal delivery for a day, once a week, every full moon, whatever works!

Financial Support

  1. Offer to help pay for services such as house cleaning, health care, or respite services.
  2. Print out or give the link to information on government funding, programs, and tax credits for caregivers (link to article). Help fill out paperwork, find answers to questions I have, or seek out information about eligibility.

Emotional Support and Advocacy

  1. Ask how I am and wait for a ‘real’ answer. Don’t let me get away with my typical “I’m fine.” Remember, 66% of caregivers are never asked how they are feeling. When they are asked, many respond with a short “fine” rather than the fuller story.
  2. Related to above, be present and listen without trying to ‘fix’ anything.
  3. Buy me a massage, a pedicure, a manicure, or some other self-nurturing gift.
  4. Call or text to ask me how I am doing. Even if I am too busy to respond, I’ll know you are thinking of me.
  5. Don’t remind me to look after myself (self care) without also telling me what you are going to do to help make this happen. For example, you can offer to stay with the person that I am are caring for while I go for a walk or read a book at my favourite coffee shop.
  6. Watch The Caregivers’ Club film.
  7. Drop off funny movies in the form of DVDs, USBs, UFOs…whatever media system you have! Or,   schedule a movie date (popcorn and all!).
  8. Drop off my favourite magazine.
  9. Send or drop off flowers or a plant.
  10. Send a ‘thinking of you’ card in the mail (or if you forget how, revert to sending me an e-mail!)
  11. Send a coupon for a hug, a meal, a walk, a movie, an uninterrupted vent session, etc.
  12. Make a playlist of my favourite music or music you think I will love.
  13. Let me know that you ‘see me’ and that you recognize and honour the difference I am making.
  14. Remind me that caregivers are the unsung heroes of the healthcare system.
  15. Take me for a scenic drive.
  16. Research and let me know about support groups (virtual and face-to-face in the community).
  17. Offer to attend medical appointments as another set of ears and for support (with the consent of the person being cared for).
  18. Arrange to do something fun together.
  19. Pray together or arrange for a prayer circle.
  20. Pray to what you believe in for us.
  21. Offer to pick us (or the person I am caring for) up and drop us off at faith meetings/worship gatherings or attend the service with us.
  22. Get me a subscription for an audiobook.

Hands on Help

  1. Offer your time. Be very specific with your offering. For example, “I am all yours from 9–2 on Saturday or every Monday.
  2. Ask what I find most taxing (physically or emotionally) and take this on to either give me a break or take it on permanently.
  3. Do research on some caregiving task or activity I would like information or education about. I don’t have the energy, time, or skill to gather and weed through the information.
  4. Offer what you do well. For example, if you are an amazing organizer, offer this service. If you are a great gardener, offer some gardening help.
  5. Volunteer to be a ‘backup’ person for emergencies (thus creating a network of support).
  6. Mow the lawn.
  7. Shovel the snow.
  8. Rake the leaves.
  9. Fill the bird feeder.
  10. Take the dog for a walk or a trip to the dog groomer.
  11. Pet the cat and if you’re brave – trim its nails!
  12. File and organize paperwork. Create forms or documents to help with organization of emergency phone numbers, appointments, etc.
  13. Arrange to take my vehicle in for an oil change or a tune up.
  14. Schedule a visit and while doing so, wash the dishes, do a load of laundry, or load/unload the dishwasher.
  15. Pick up and drop off the kids at school or extracurricular activities.
  16. Pick up a load of laundry and bring it back clean (Hint: ask me about any soap or scent allergies/sensitivities before you bring back socks smelling like a field of daisies!).
  17. Organize photos because well, many of us could use this help!
  18. Set up e-mail if it is not already set up.
  19. Troubleshoot computer problems and/or set up the computer to be user-friendly.

This is in no way an exhaustive list. But, sometimes caregivers get stuck at respite as the only thing that will make a difference. This list is to remind you that there are many ways that you can be helped. There are creative ways to help that can reduce your workload and stress.

What is the most helpful thing that someone has done for you as a caregiver?

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you through SE Health.

Elizz is a powered by SE Health, a not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.

Call us at 1-855-275-3549

Learn more about our home care services by visiting the services section of our website

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