Did you know that almost 30% of America’s adult population are caregivers for a person who is aged, ill or disabled? That is a lot of people. Caregivers often take on many roles like chef, cook, waiter, chauffeur, nurse, physical therapist, grocery shopper, house cleaner, babysitter and more. With so many roles to fill, a caregivers life is often disrupted and it is easy for them to neglect themselves.
We love the many compassionate caregivers in our country and we are happy to be working with the ACC Senior Services in their efforts to support caregivers. ACC Senior Services is a non-profit organization with several effective programs and resources for seniors and their caregivers.
Giving support to a trusted and kind caregiver can be as simple as an ACC car donation.
People who provide care for others can sometimes experience caregiver stress. This can show up as sleeplessness, irritability, exhaustion, social withdrawal and depression.
Here are 8 ways you can offer support for a loved one who is a caregiver, or for a caregiver who is caring for your loved one:
- Be a good listener. Even though you cannot solve their problems, a caregiver may appreciate your listening ear to vent their frustrations. Offering a listening ear and a non-judgmental heart can be the best gift.
- Do not judge. Refrain from making judgements over the caregiver’s decisions. Work to see things from their shoes. Nobody needs negative judgments.
- Be positive. There are many horror stories about substandard caregiving and nursing homes, however sharing negative stories will only add to a caregivers worry and guilt. Share positive things.
- Ask what you can do to help. Often a caregiver deals with tragic events and end-of-life situations. You cannot be expected to know what is needed, so ask what you can specifically do for them.
- Bring food. Having someone bring you a meal, dessert or snack can be very comforting in stressful situations. Bring them a home-cooked meal, favorite take-out, or even make a meal and freeze it for your caregiver to use when it’s needed.
- Give space. Be aware that your caregiver may want to be left alone at times. Do not always prod them to go out, sometimes time is needed alone to regroup before engaging in social activities.
- Give respite. Offer to take your caregiver out while someone trustworthy cares for your loved one. Or if you can, offer to care for your loved one so your caregiver can go out. It’s easier for a caregiver to relax when they aren’t worried about their client’s welfare.
- Do not create more work. Avoid doing things that actually make more work, even if your intentions are good. Gathering friends to visit may cause your caregiver more stress to prepare for company, for example. If your caregiver truly would love company, ensure that you are handling all the preparations.
Every caregiver is unique and has their own set of challenges. There is no guarantee that you will do everything right in trying to help and support them. Just keep trying to show that you care and you are there for them.
The ACC Senior Services also offers resources to caregivers. A Bridge to Healthy Families is a program offering extensive support services for caregivers like safety checks, assessments, consultations, support groups and educational programs.
Caregivers can get a break with the Friendly Visitor program and the Support Groups and Educational Workshops are great resources in helping caregivers cope.
Many generous people also choose to donate a car for seniors to help the ACC Senior Services in enhancing the quality of life for both a caregiver and the person being cared for.