Helping a caregiver
I want to offer help to my neighbor. She is taking care of her husband, who has dementia.
How can I help? What do I say?
Please don’t wait for someone to ask you for help. Almost everyone I know, including myself, would suffer in silence rather than ask for help in almost every kind of situation.
If you ask me, “What can I do to help?” I’m likely to ask you to say a prayer and thank you for your concern. So, instead, make suggestions like, “I’m free tomorrow afternoon, can I sit with your husband while you take a break?” or “I’m going to the grocery store, can I pick something up for you while I’m there?” or “Can your husband go with me to the high school baseball game and you can take a break?” or “What is your favorite meal? Can I cook it for you Saturday night?” Or “I’m mowing my grass on Saturday can I go ahead and cut yours while I’m at it?”
Caregivers are at high risk of isolation. They can withdraw from family and friends.
Be the one to reach out and be a friend.
“I miss our conversations. If you put on a pot of coffee, I’ll bring the cookies.”
Nothing is better than a personal visit with a friend. If you are worried about what to say take your cues from her. Be a good listener. Help find someone to sit with her husband and take her to a movie, shopping, or out to eat. Sometimes just doing something ‘normal’ can re-charge her batteries.
What if it’s a sibling that is the primary caregiver for your parent. Do the same as above but, also, please remember to thank them. Recognize their hard work and sacrifice with a simple thank you. And offer to take over for a few hours or a weekend. Learn everything you can to recognize caregiver stress so you can be better prepared to help. Taking care of someone in the advanced stages of dementia can become an impossible task for a caregiver. Be supportive when it comes time for the decision to admit into a nursing home. It’s never an easy decision but often necessary for many.
If you have any questions we would love to help. Call us at 229-8244 or you can email me at scain@CrossSeniorCare.com or, even better, stop by for a visit. Remember, treat everyone with importance and always be kind.