Today’s family caregivers fill many roles. From chef to chore coordinator to at-home nurse, caring for an ill or aging loved one requires caregivers to take on new responsibilities—frequently without any formal training.
While the role of family caregiver can be rewarding, it can also be draining. A caregiver who is already managing their own responsibilities may feel their time, energy and personal health are compromised by the assistance they give to others.
To avoid exhaustion and resentment, it’s incredibly important that caregivers acknowledge and address their personal duties—and sometimes, they might need a reminder. This post outlines several ideas for taking care of the family caregiver in your life.
1. Encourage them to practice self-care.
Caregivers who invest much of their time in the well-being of a loved one may neglect their own basic wellness. Offer to take over their responsibilities for a day, so they can focus on their own needs, perhaps via a relaxing evening at home or a pampering trip to a local spa.
2. Help them find support resources.
While you may not know of any resources yourself, the simple act of sitting down with a caregiver to research reading material or support groups shows you care. Caregiving can be an emotionally taxing responsibility—encourage the family caregiver in your life to seek out the company of others who can empathize.
>>>Related Resource: Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Family Caregivers
3. Show your appreciation.
Many people seeking to provide caregiver support underestimate the value of kind words and a simple thank you. Whether personally or publicly, acknowledging the selflessness of a family caregiver can go a long way in lightening the heavy responsibilities they carry.
4. Offer them your time.
Many family caregivers have a 9-5 job and a family of their own. However, the personal obligations of a family caregiver often fall to the wayside when so much of their time is dedicated to others. Offer your time to help with daily chores. Completing seemingly small tasks like grocery shopping or vacuuming can take a lot off the plate of a family caregiver.
5. Don’t forget to include them in your plans.
Many family caregivers are unable to accept last-minute invitations and some may even struggle to clear their schedules for planned events—but that doesn’t mean you should stop reaching out. Ensuring they feel included and acknowledged outside of their role as a family caregiver is an important way of providing support.
6. Send them a gift.
A family caregiver may not always have the time or resources to splurge on items for their own personal enjoyment. Therefore, a small gift, like a delivery of their favorite food or a gift basket of thoughtful items, can be an easy and tangible way to provide caregiver support.
7. Ask what you can do to make their job easier.
If you’re unsure of how to provide caregiver support, the best strategy is to simply ask. Reaching out with specific questions makes accepting assistance much easier for a family caregiver. For example, try asking, “What can I do to make your week easier?” as opposed to offering a general statement like, “Let me know if I can help.”
Feel Confident in Your Role as a Caregiver
Becoming a caregiver for an ill or aging loved one is an incredible act of selflessness—but we understand the challenges that come along with the role. Download our Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Family Caregivers for information on how to prepare for your journey as a caregiver, as well as strategies to help you succeed in providing a high quality of life for your loved one.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Thirty years of experience helping people on the hardest day of their lives, and one of Busch’s longest-standing staff members. Bob provides valuable guidance to families with his expertise and compassion. He serves on two non-profit boards in the greater Cleveland area, promoting healthcare and the arts. Proudly serving Busch families since 1983.