How can I help my friend who is a caregiver?
Perhaps you’ve asked yourself this question. Perhaps, you have even asked your friend directly.
Caregivers’ minds are full. They’re juggling their own responsibilities, plus taking care of someone else. It’s a lot to think about.
When your brain is on overdrive, answering questions is hard. Especially tough ones like, “What can I do to help?”
The caregiver must give thought to what they need help with. But they also must decide what you’re willing and able to do. They also may feel guilty asking for help.
This means your answer will likely be nothing.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Caregivers need help.
10 ways you can help your friend who is a caregiver
Instead of asking your friend who is caring for their older parents what you can do to help, just pick one of the items below and jump in.
Make a list
Sit down together and brainstorm things she’d like to have help with. Sometimes this conversation takes some prompting to get the ball rolling.
Start with the practical things and move on from there. Tasks like laundry, picking up groceries, driving the parent to a doctor appointment, picking kids up from school, and making dinner could all go on the list.
Add as many as possible. Then your friend will have an answer whenever someone asks how they can help. Better yet, type up the list and email it to your friend’s friends and family members.
Bring your friend a freezer friendly meal once a month (or more frequently!) If you’re at the store, call and ask what you can pick up. Then make a quick stop to deliver it.
Cover a shift
Cover a care taking shift so your friend can get away some respite. Let your friend explain everything that’s involved and reassure her you’ll call if needed.
Share helpful resources
Many resources are available for caregivers. But the research to find those can be overwhelming.
Take time to research on your friend’s behalf. Look into government funded programs in your state. Research the specific condition your friend’s parent has and see if there are any organizations that help.
Learn what you can and share it with your friend without being a know-it-all. Also, write down everything so it doesn’t have to be remembered.
Providing updates grows weary, so offer to help spread the word. Pick a form of communication and provide regular updates as you have them. This way your friend isn’t inundated with requests for information. You can update via:
- Phone trees
- Email lists
- A private Facebook Group
- Instant Messaging apps
Be a listening ear
Sometimes caregivers just need to vent. They get frustrated, scared, and annoyed. But these feelings often bring guilt as well.
Let them share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you. Be a listening ear and provide encouragement without judgement.
Care for the pets
With the added responsibility of elder care, pets can sometimes feel neglected. If your friend has a pet, come by and give them some love.
Take note of what brand of pet food they use, and bring some by. During hospitalizations, offer to take the pet home until life settles down.
Complete outdoor duties
Peek around your friend’s yard and mentally note what they need help with. Then do it.
Come over one Saturday and mow the lawn. Rake the leaves in the fall. Shovel snow in the winter.
Weed the flower bed. Harvest the garden and help put up the bounty.
Getting out of the house when you’re caring for an elderly parent is difficult. Help your friend out by running some errands. Try:
- Picking up the mail
- Washing the car
- Handling an oil change
- Refilling prescriptions
- Picking up and dropping off dry cleaning
- Taking animals to the vet
10. Don’t give up on them
Life changes when you start caring for your aging parent. You start turning down invitations you’d have accepted in the past. Eventually people stop asking you to do anything, and you feel like you lost all of your friends.
Don’t let your friend feel like that.
Continue to talk to her and keep her in the loop. Think of ways to include her, and never make her feel guilty when she must decline.
Someday your friend will you again, so make sure she still has a friend when that time comes. Never give up on them!
Please share this article to your other friends, so you can all support the caregivers in your lives.