Caregivers need to be cared for too. Here’s a list of the BEST things people did to support me as a caregiver:
Sit a spell
Caregiving is a lonely business. It was great when friends stopped by just to chat, see how things were doing and offer a moment of moral support.
Get down and Dirty
My husband and I had an open house. I guess the crowd was just too much for my mom. She went into full fledged wandering, sundowning, looking for her dead parents mode. The only way to avoid world war 3 was to put her in the car and ride. When we returned, the kitchen and dining room were spotless, and the downstairs was vacuumed and put back in order. THAT was a priceless gift.
During the time I cared for my mom, my only brother was living about 500 miles away, so he was unable to to chip in on a daily or weekly basis. He would visit for two or so weeks at a time. That gave me time to run errands, get things done around the house and REST. So, even though he wasn’t part of the day to day routine. He did pitch in when he could and I appreciated it.
More Time Off
From time to time someone from my church would call and say, "I have a couple of hours, would you like me to come and sit with your mom for a while?" Those were precious times.
I love to cook and everything related to the kitchen (except cleaning up). However, with all of the other things to do, meal preparation became quite a challenge. It was such a blessing when people stopped by with food or when they called to say, let’s potluck.
Opportunities to serve in different ways
For three of my seven years of caregiving, I had the opportunity to go on mission trips to the Dominican Republic, Peru and Africa. Anyone who is a caregiver knows that two weeks away is absolutely unheard of. Yet, my husband, sister in law, mother in law and brother all pitched in so that I could make those trips. The conditions were ROUGH and I returned tired, but with a stark reminder that with all of my troubles, there were people who were WAY worse off than I was.
Checked in on ME
When you care for a sick person, people often inquire as to how things are going. I was so grateful for the people who took time to ask how I was doing?
Space and permission to grieve
As caregivers do, I experienced a myriad of emotions. The people in my life who allowed and even encouraged me to explore and express my feelings did more for me than they can imagine.
Don’t talk about momma
Well, I don’t know about you, but where I come from, just ONE ill spoken word about momma is cause for a fight. My mom exhibited some pretty strange behaviors at times. And never once, did my friends ban us from visiting or give us strange looks. Even more than that, they talked with her, hugged her and engaged her. They loved her!
Don’t wait for someone to come or call. You have to take care of yourself as a caregiver. You are no good to your loved one if you are exhausted and not feeling well. click here for some tips from the National Family Caregivers Association.