“Let me know what I can do to help.” It’s a line all caregivers hear on a regular basis. Unfortunately, there’s often no follow-up action, leaving the caregiver disappointed, discouraged, and still in need of help.
People who say this to caregivers may have the best of intentions, but they may not know what it is they can do to help. Also, when a caregiver hears this offer, they might not know how to answer the question in the moment, or they feel overwhelmed with the thought of coming up with a helpful task(s).
Know someone who’s a caregiver and want to offer support? Here are 5 ways to show you care — and lighten their load — in a way that’s meaningful and doable.
1. Pick up groceries or prescriptions.
You can offer to make and bring them a meal, but with special diets, allergies, and different taste preferences, it’s generally better to bring food items you’re certain they’ll eat and know they need. Next time you’re planning a trip to the grocery store, check in and ask if you can bring them a few staples like milk, bread, eggs, or bananas. Or, plan ahead and ask them to text you a simple grocery list. If they’re all set on food, offer to pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. When meds are needed but getting out of the house is hard, this simple errand can make a huge difference.
2. Clean the house.
Come over and fold laundry, or empty the dishwasher. Wash windows for an hour or two. Vacuum the main living areas. Clean the kitchen floor and scrub the bathroom. Even if you only have a few hours to give, helping a caregiver get a few things knocked off their list will be a wonderful gift.
3. Offer a few hours of respite.
Give a few hours of your day to sit and chat with the caree — or just to stay with them and make sure they’re safe and content — so the caregiver can take a nap, go out for a walk, or meet a friend for lunch. These short hours of down time are a beautiful gift, and a way to boost a caregiver so they can keep going for the long haul of caregiving.
4. Send gift cards.
Caregivers often must do a lot of driving — whether it’s to doctor’s appointments for their loved one, to pick up prescriptions, or to bring them to physical therapy, infusions, or radiation treatments. Gas is expensive no matter where you live, and even if these are short trips, they add up quickly when you have to make them regularly. A gas gift card is an easy but significant way to support a caregiver-road warrior you know. You could also send them gift cards to a grocery delivery or takeout service.
5. Call and check in.
Caregiving is a lonely and isolating experience, and sometimes a phone call from a friend or even a kind text breaks through those feelings and offers a sigh of relief, an encouraging pick-me-up, or an affirming word. We all carry our phones nearly everywhere we go, so this one is easy to do and doesn’t require any money or advanced planning. Take 10 minutes or more on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis to do a check-in. This act of thoughtfulness may seem insignificant, but caregivers appreciate the smallest gestures done with love and consistency.
Guess what? A home care provider can do all of these things and more! We’d love to discuss options for bringing in companion care as a way to lighten your caregiving load. Contact us to learn more.