How To Help A Caregiver

It’s easy for caregivers to feel invisible. Too often they see their own lives being swallowed up by the needs of the people they care for. And in the case of Alzheimer’s, those needs only grow as time passes. So even as caregivers step up and step up to do more and do more, they still wonder if they’re doing enough. The cycle of worry, fatigue, and unnecessary guilt is disheartening, at best.

 one alone

What if you could help? What if you could help care for a caregiver?

  •          Do you have to be trained? No.
  •          Do you need experience in caregiving? No.
  •          Is it going to take a lot of time? No.
  •          Is it hard? No.

Really? Is that true?  Absolutely.

Being the one in charge of someone’s care isn’t easy. Generally it takes a lot of time. Experience doesn’t necessarily make things run more smoothly. And some days it’s very hard indeed. How nice it would be to have someone around who can clean the house while we try to figure out what our loved ones want to eat. Finding someone who can talk them into taking a shower would be…like…a miracle! And if someone would watch after them while we take a couple of hours off, we’d be giddy with excitement.

But you know what? As important as it is to have help with the tasks of caregiving, and it’s very important indeed, caring for the caregiver is equally important. Maybe more so. Because somehow we can recruit help for caregiving tasks, or we can find a way to do them ourselves, or we can pay someone to do them. What we can’t do is make ourselves less lonely. Talking to ourselves doesn’t give us a lot of support or encouragement. We can try to fight the doubt and the guilt, but it’s hard to convince ourselves we’re doing all we can, all we should, to take care of our loved ones.

That’s where you come in, if you will. Helping the caregiver doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming or tiring.

  •       If you know how to be a friend, you’re trained.
  •        If you’ve ever visited with someone, in person or on the phone, you have               experience.
  •        The amount of time it takes is completely up to you.
  •         Helping isn’t hard. In fact, it’s a piece of cake. Or a cup of coffee. Or a few minutes on the phone. Or a knock on the door.

lean on me What if you came to visit for a bit while we’re working? You wouldn’t have to do anything except be yourself, someone who doesn’t need anything, just there to give us some company. Or maybe you could phone, or we could have coffee occasionally. We’d have someone to tell about the latest caregiving strategy we’ve figured out, or maybe just someone to vent to.  Or—imagine!—we could talk about anything except caregiving.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or any other debilitating disease is a task filled with blessing and burden, opportunity and impossibility, love and fear and enormous self-doubt. Having someone who will come alongside, listening, encouraging, affirming, is help beyond measure.

Are you a caregiver? This is one kind of help you cannot afford to be without. Ask for it, please.

If you’re not a caregiver but you know one, you can be a help. Beyond measure.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise”  (Luke 10: 36-37  NIV).

O God, our loving Father, thank You for all those who reach out to us with support and encouragement. They are faithful to You, sent by Your hand and filled with Your love. Please bless them as they bring Your comfort to us.

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About atimeformiracles

I'm a writer. And a speaker. And an advocate for victims of Alzheimer's. I write about a lot of things, but right now Alzheimer's has taken center stage. You'll see some of my work on my blog alzheimershopeandhelp.wordpress.com. If you're a caregiver, this blog is for you, from someone who has been in your shoes. I offer help in the form of tips and strategies gained through my personal experience. I offer encouragement in the form of witness: You are never alone. The God of all hope is always with you, and where He is, miracles abound. I speak to groups on the same subject, sharing helps and challenging caregivers to expect joy on the path through Alzheimer's. It's a rough road, but it leads through terrain of intense beauty. I can point out some of the miraculous sights along the way. In the U.S., a new diagnosis of Alzheimer's is made every 69 seconds. Please join me in praying for those suffering from the disease and for those who care for them.

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