No matter how much we love each other, family is complicated. When you first got married, you probably never thought about the possibility of your spouse’s aging parent living with you one day. But if you’re in that situation now, or if someone else in your life has become a family caregiver, things might feel like they’re changing, and not for the better.
Caregiving can be challenging, but many caregivers find that giving a loved one a better quality of life is extremely rewarding. And you may find that giving the caregiver you love the support they need is a reward in itself.
10 Ways To Support a Caregiver
1. Do Your Research
The first and most important thing you can do when a loved one has become a caregiver is a little research. Whether the person in your life is caring for an aging parent, a child, or a younger adult, they will likely face some challenges. If you know what those challenges are, you’ll be better prepared to help out.
There’s a lot of information out there, but a good place to start is with some proven authorities on health conditions:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has many articles and resources on their website on a range of physical and mental health concerns, including family caregiving.
- The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) also has resources for caregivers.
- At Sundara Senior Living, we have over 60 years of experience in caregiving. We’re happy to share all the things we’ve learned with you on our resources page. We think that these resources will be helpful for you and your family, whether your loved one has dementia or another condition.
2. Share Information and Resources
You most likely found some helpful information while researching. Keep track of what you’ve found so the caregiver can use it. An online document that you both can have access to, like a Google Doc, is ideal for this.
This document can hold general information on caregiving and the condition their loved one has, as well as a list of local resources that can help with caregiving.
If you live in the Round Rock, Texas or North Austin, Texas area, here are a few local resources for caregivers:
3. Provide Emotional Support
Becoming a caregiver can bring up difficult or confusing feelings, making providing emotional support a crucial job for the caregiver’s supporters. Encourage them to talk about what’s happening and their feelings about it. They may feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, or even guilty.
Providing emotional support often means:
- Listening without judgment or interruption
- Staying calm and patient
- Offering reassurance
- Asking questions to better understand where they’re coming from
- Empathizing and validating their feelings
4. Help the Caregiver Set Boundaries
Caregivers often end up spending more time, energy and resources than they intended to caring for their loved ones. While it’s admirable to be devoted to the person they care for, many caregivers find that, when they refuse to put anything else in their life first, they quickly feel stressed, overwhelmed and even burned out.
You can support the caregiver in your life by helping them to set boundaries to protect themselves. Sometimes, a caregiver needs a third party to point out how much their health is suffering from their duties. While they may love the person they care for dearly, it’s important to remind them that they can’t care for their loved one properly, if they don’t care for themself first.
The experts at AgingCare.com have a few recommendations on starting the conversation about boundaries with a caregiver:
- What will you do to prioritize your physical and mental health?
- How do you plan to keep your marriage strong and remain a reliable and supportive influence for your children?
- How will caregiving affect your career? Your spouse’s career?
- What hard limits can you set when providing care for your family member?
- In what scenario would you hire in-home care or encourage your loved one to move to a senior living community or other care community?
5. Let Them Know It’s Ok To Ask For Help
When someone feels responsible for a person, especially someone they love, it can be hard to convince them to ask for help, but we all need help sometimes. If the caregiver in your life seems to be struggling, don’t be afraid to suggest getting a little help, whether that’s from you, another family member, or a professional.
If they still seem unconvinced, you might try telling them about a time in your life when you decided to ask for help, and how it worked out for the best.
6. Give Them a (Much Needed) Break
If they accept help, you can start by giving them the chance to take a break from their caregiving duties. Maybe you can offer to stay with their loved one for a few hours while they get out of the house and meet up with friends, catch up on their to-do list, or simply take a nap.
If you or another family member can’t stay with the individual, we offer respite care at Sundara, which allows caregivers to leave their loved one in the hands of trusted professionals while they take a well-deserved break.
7. Help With the ‘Little Things’
The CDC notes that helping caregivers with errands, chores and other tasks can have a big impact. It’s often when these ‘little things’ add up that caregivers feel overwhelmed. Help out by making sure that their day-to-day tasks don’t get to be too much for them.
8. Help Them Create and Manage a Care Plan for the Person They Care For
When someone’s first starting out as a caregiver, they probably don’t know where to even begin. A good starting point is making a caregiving schedule like this one. This is especially helpful when caring for someone with dementia, as routine helps individuals with dementia to feel less agitated and confused, but is beneficial for all caregivers.
9. Check In on Them
The simplest way to support a caregiver is to check in on them. Even when they’re having a hard time, many caregivers don’t want to burden others with their problems. Checking in on the caregiver in your life can be the difference between them succumbing to burnout and reaching out for help.
10. Help Them To Build a Support Team
Even if you’re doing everything you can to support the caregiver in your life, sometimes it might be too much for just you to handle on your own. You have your own life to deal with, after all – but when several family members or friends take turns helping out the caregiver, there’s a higher chance that help will be there when needed.
Sundara Is Your Dementia Caregiving Support Team
Like everything in life, caregiving doesn’t always go the way we plan. Some caregivers find that they’re not able to lean on family members the way they thought they would be able to. If the caregiver in your life is lacking a support system or they could simply use a little extra help, we’re here for you both.
We offer respite care for individuals with dementia for those times caregivers need a break. We also offer local, compassionate and highly professional long-term care for dementia in Round Rock, Texas.
Is it time for memory care? Schedule your appointment online to talk to an owner and tour our community.