Family and professional caregivers play an integral role keeping their patients and loved ones healthy, active and emotionally fulfilled. All too often, as the caregiver juggles personal life, their job and health care duties, they become overworked and exhausted, resulting in health complications of their own. Similarly to the care recipient, the caregiver requires a support system that provides assistance when needed.
Supporting a caregiver doesn't necessarily mean assuming some of the care giving duties with the patient or loved one. Even small jobs, when taken off the caregivers plate, can reduce stress levels and fatigue, meaning better care for the patient and a higher quality of life for the caregiver.
Use these simple tips to give a caregiver help in everyday life.
- Provide Temporary Relief: It may not seem like much to most people but an hour off here and 30 minutes of free time there can make all the difference for an overworked caregiver. If geography and time permit, stop by the long-term care facility or home of the patient and offer to spend some time with the care recipient so the care provider can take a break. This doesn't necessarily mean taking over any of the actual care duties.
Just watching the patient for a short period gives the caregiver piece of mind to redirect their attention elsewhere. Bringing activities such as cards or puzzles will both entertain the patient and reassure the caregiver that taking a break is acceptable.
During this time off the caregiver should be encouraged to attend to personal tasks or simply take a break, rather than catching up on laundry and other household tasks for the care recipient. Providing temporary relief is one of the best ways to provide caregiver help.
- Make Extra Meals: Meal preparation can take a lot of time and energy. Preparing crock pot meals or making extra food when cooking dinner and delivering it to the caregiver can ease the overall care burden. Calling ahead and asking about dietary restrictions is recommended to ensure allergic reactions and digestion issues don't arise in the patient.
Making meals that both the caregiver and the patient can eat means an even greater time savings, and increased health benefits for the caregiver who might skips meals at times to keep up with their duties.
- Take on Odd Jobs: Without the proper training it can be hard to take on some of the health care related tasks that caregivers provide on a daily basis. Assuming common daily tasks for the caregiver, however, can be a great way to provide caregiver help. Offer to pick up dry cleaning, grocery shop during your own trips and do yard work for the caregiver; doing laundry for the patient and caregiver, or helping with housecleaning are also appreciated. Small tasks add up over time giving the caregiver the relief they need.
- Encourage Socialization: In most cases the first thing a caregiver will sacrifice in order to maintain a high level of service is their own social life. Without social interaction a caregiver can become emotionally fatigued, feeling trapped in their day to day duties. Taking the time to invite a caregiver to a social event can give them the mental break they need, rejuvenating them for a period of time.
If the caregiver refuses to participate in social activities time after time, it's OK to take the social event to them. Stop by for coffee or tea (better yet, bring the snacks with you), watch a movie or just talk to help them stay engaged with friends.
Taking these steps to give a caregiver help keeps them healthy, engaged and providing top-quality care for their patient of loved one. You might also be interested in one of these posts on similar topics: