Give a Caregiver a Brief (or not so brief!) Reprieve
As the holidays approach, there’s usually a name or two on the gift list that poses a challenge as to what to get. If that person happens to be a caregiver, how about a brief reprieve from caregiving and/or stress? Very often if you ask a caregiver how you can help, he/she is stymied to come up with something. It’s not that they don’t want help; often it’s they are so overwhelmed it’s hard to think of what they can pass on to someone else.
So one suggestion is that you ask the caregiver to jot down tasks that can be done by someone else when she/he thinks of them. Then, you can take the list and see what you can take from that list and offer to coordinate passing along other tasks to others who’d like to help. Here are some other ways to help caregivers during the holidays:
- Offer to do whatever research might be needed with respect to disease information, or doctor(s) search, or financial or legal considerations. These are time consuming tasks that weigh heavily on caregivers who have little time.
- Offer (or hire someone) to clean the caregiver’s house. This is particularly helpful if the caregiver lives apart from the person for whom they’re caring, because caregivers typically ignore their own needs.
- Take a morning or afternoon to spell the caregiver for a few hours so he/she can get a break and just do something for her/himself. Throw in a gift certificate for a manicure or massage to encourage the caregiver to really do something just for her/himself!
- Run some of the caregiver’s errands, do the food shopping or pick up at the cleaners to lighten his/her load.
- Bring by a meal (or two) to ease the caregiver’s cooking responsibilities, or do the weekly food shopping for him/her.
- If the caregiver has gifts to wrap, suggest you help or take on the task completely.
Another major way to help caregivers is to simply be there to listen to the caregiver. Letting him/her just talk, commiserate, or vent is worth its weight in gold.