In many ways, I have been a caregiver for most of my life. Growing up, I lived with my mother who has a chronic illness. Unfortunately, she would go into the hospital for months at a time and I’d have to learn how to take care of the house and go to school on my own. Now, as a wife and mother, I have to put the coping skills that I learned as a child into great use.
Certainly, caregiving is different for every family who has to take on the role. However, it is a role that many of my blogs readers can relate to, whether you’re caring for a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or someone else. One thing for certain is that someone else’s care is all on you. If you are looking for ways that you can support yourself or someone who you love who is a caregiver here are my favorite ways to provide support.
20 ways parents Who are caregivers can support themselves
- Get rest
- Eat healthy meals
- Pray / meditate
- Take 10 deep breaths
- Talk to a therapist
- Go hiking to get fresh air
- Take a water aerobics class
- Drink organic soothing calming herbal teas
- Join a support group
- Hire a sitter
- Set daily goals, because being protective takes one day at a time
- Listen to music that will uplift your spirits
- Ask others to help with a specific request (the bottom of this list can give you ideas)
- Visit friends and avoid isolating yourself
- Be creative: paint, sew, draw, knit, crochet, etc
- Forgive yourself
- Be honest if people ask how they can help. Give them specific tasks that they can do for you.
- Be willing to allow others to enter into your space.
Not too long ago, I spoke at the Sickle Cell Consortium in Dallas, TX and I gave a talk entitled, “Caring for the Caregiver: Dealing With Burnout and Guilt.” I received positive feedback, but one parent also asked me, how can we practice self-care while our children living with sickle
20 ways parents who are caregivers can support themselves while their child is hospitalized
- Take an eye mask to the hospital so you can rest while the lights are on
- If the parent has left anything from home, offer to bring something they need so they won’t have to leave to go get it. – this suggestion comes from the
- Snuggle in a cozy soft blanket
- Take a pillow from home
- Color to help relieve stress
- Give yourself permission to vent
- Take a digital device to watch your favorite movies
- Write down your experience, through poetry, prose, etc. Writing can be a cathartic experience
- Bring comfortable shoes to walk around the hospital room
- Bring your favorite toiletries like your body wash from home. Familiar things can make you feel more comfortable.
- Pack a bag with hospital essentials like shower shoes and comfortable clothes.
- If essential oils like peppermint or lavender oil bring them to help calm your mood
- Music can be transformative so have a device on hand with your favorite tunes
- Bring a game to play, if your kid is able to play with you that’s great, or you can play games on a digital device, but this will be a great source of distraction.
- Ask if the hospital has a fitness center if so, go and exercise there to help relieve some of your stress.
- Have a notepad and pen to jot down the high points of what the doctor is saying if you are extremely tired it will help you cope and focus.
- Don’t feel forced to keep everyone you know informed. Designate one person, who you will tell and they will let others know. If you would before they text people rather than blast it on social media, let them know that up
- Keep some healthy snacks on hand, that satisfy you and give you energy
- Take breaks when you need to, if you’re hungry go to the cafeteria and eat. Step out of the room and take a breather when you need to.
- Get to know the staff who will be coming into the room, doctors, nurses, cleaning crew, etc. Feeling more comfortable with people can help you feel more at ease.
60 ways others can support parents who are caregivers
- Purchase a gift card for a family meal
- Give the caregiver a gift card to Starbucks, their favorite restaurant, or grocery store.
- Order delivery for the caregiver
- Take the caregiver to a restaurant
- Offer to do the caregivers weekly meal planning list
- Gift a fruit basket or home food delivery service
- If your city does boat and dinner cruises, treat the caregiver to a night on the town
- Offer to clean a room in the person’s home
- Offer to hire a cleaning service that you trust to help clean a room (ie., the kitchen or bathroom)
- Vacuum each room in their home
- Cut the caregivers grass
- Wash the caregiver’s windows
- See if simple repair tasks around the house need to be done and oversee the project. (For example, pictures hung, paint a room, clean grout, vacuum their refrigerator coils, gutters, etc.)
- Get their home’s dryer and exhaust vents cleaned. Inexpensive, but helpful.
- Take the caregiver to a movie
- Offer to go dancing
- Do a paint and sip night
- Have fun and try a live theater show or comedy show
- If going outside of the home is an issue, bring the fun into the home and set up a movie night in the home with treats and popcorn.
- Offer to go on a walk together to talk in person
- Gift the caregiver a massage, facial, or chair massage (some massage therapist will come to a person’s home)
- Get a chair massager for the caregivers home
- Get the caregiver a foot massager
- Buy the caregiver some cozy socks
- Hang out and get manicures or pedicures together
- Ask if you can give the caregiver a hug, sometimes support is unspoken. Ask before you stop by to visit because your visit could be overwhelming.
- Buy the caregiver some comfortable pajamas, loungewear, or comfortable shoes.
- Offer to run an errand on the caregiver’s behalf like going grocery shopping,
- Perhaps you could assist taking books back to the local library
- Assist the caregiver by picking up laundry or dry cleaning
- Offer to be a driver for the caregiver; especially for parents who are caregivers that may need to pick up their child from school or an extra-curricular activity
- Offer homework assistance for children.
- Offer to take the kiddos to the library once a month.
- Pay for/sponsor field trips.
- Invite them into your home for a home-cooked meal.
- Give them paper plates and disposable utensils for those crazy times when doing dishes is so exhausting! – This suggestion comes from my friend whose blog is About Growing Old
- Surprise the caregiver for his or her birthday, often the caregiver is looking out for everyone else and may overlook his or her own needs and desires.
- Ask if you can assist with washing, folding, and putting away laundry
- Offer to watch the kids or the caregiver’s care recipient for a while
- Offer to provide dinner to caregivers kids who aren’t sick/in the hospital – This suggestion comes from my friend who has the Opinion Not Fact podcast
- Be attentive, if the caregiver reaches out, keep the communication lines open.
- Wash the caregiver’s car and get the inside cleaned
- Offer to take the car for routine maintenance
- If you have the gift of beautifying others, you can offer to do the caregiver’s hair or get someone to come to their home and style it.
- Offer to pick up prescriptions from a local pharmacy
- Send the caregiver a thoughtful gift (i.e., fruit basket, bracelet, necklace, card, etc)
- Call/Facetime to check-in and see how the caregiver is doing
- Give the caregiver an audiobook or audiobook list with encouraging books on it.
- Text the caregiver something funny, because laughter is good for the soul.
- Buy some household essentials like toilet paper and have it delivered to their home – From my friend who writes the blog Moms With Tots
- Take a yoga class with the caregiver
- Play a board game with caregiver
- Take them out for ice cream or dessert
- Send the caregiver fresh flowers
- Offer to watch the caregiver’s loved while he or she goes to a doctor’s appointment to check up on their own health
- Refer a trusted financial advisor who can help get the caregivers financial matters in order
- If you know of any local resources that are geared towards caregivers research them to make sure they are legit then share them with the caregiver
- If being an assistant is your gift, offer to set up much-needed appointments for the caregiver
- Last, but not least, help grant one of the caregiver’s wishes. (For example, offer to pay for the caregiver to take a break/vacation.)
- For men: a golf day, massage, movies, or time to enjoy their favorite team game.
Frankly, most of us will have a friend or loved one who will be a caregiver. Many people don’t want to burden other people with their problems or needs so if you ask if there is something that you can do for them they may not have an answer for you. Friends support their friends. My goal is that this list will encourage you to ask, “Is there anything, I can do to help, and then following up with one or two things from this list that you would feel comfortable doing to ask them specifically, can I _________________.
For the caregiver, this list may not comprise of everything that you may need done for you, but it’s a helpful start. So, if you don’t know how your friend can assist, this list will give you ideas so that you can feel more comfortable asking for what you need.
Lastly, a special shot out to all my friends who helped me get my list to 100. After 80, I need some assistance and they all came through.
Life can become very stressful. It doesn’t matter ...