August 05, 2020 by jas
Such a big word, quintessential!
But why wouldn’t we reach to learn about the ‘perfect embodiment of caregiving support‘ . . . that is what quintessential means: the pure essence of . . .
Caregivers encompass a huge portion of those nurturing humanity. We will limit our brief discussion to the possibly 50 million humans who are caregivers for those with memory loss.
Support for those who care
for loved ones with memory loss.
FAMILY MEMBERS normally provide unpaid care to a loved one with a cognitive or mental health condition —a vital resource, a critical link in the caregiver’s chain of care.
THOSE WHO WANT TO support a caregiver . . . but are not caregivers and really are not sure what ‘offer’ that might be acceptable. Generally, friends can be great support to one another.
Usually when asked, a caregiver does not have a list ready in their head to tell someone who wants to help. It seems better if the one offering has an idea or two to suggest to enable the offer to be meaningful, plus it might lead to the caregiver proposing important alternatives.
“Maybe I could bring dinner on Friday for you.”
“Next time you have an appointment, call me to drive you there.”
“Let me stay with your loved one while you go… on your errand, go shopping, go to the pharmacy, see your doctor. ” etc.
PAID PERSONAL SERVICE WORKERS have specific duties and most times visit with the loved one for a specified period of time to perform a specific task and to leave when the task is completed.
A SUPPORT GROUP is one of the first concepts that comes to mind when we speak of “support.” A caregiver participates in a group with other caregivers experiencing the same frustrations and unfamiliar behaviours. They help one another find solutions to their situations by sharing suggestions and resources.
In what ways can we support
a caregiver and a loved one?
We make a number of suggestions here that one might offer as support, even as respite, for a caregiver.
Some activities will be with the loved one enabling the caregiver to have respite/free time. Some activities will be with caregiver while a PSW or other person/friend/service worker remains to care for the loved one.
If necessity is the mother of invention, creativity is the adventure of necessity! Be creative when seeking support!
Remember, COVID-19 may alter how some of the suggestions are carried out.
Note the suggestions that resonate with you. Make your own list with these ideas as starters…expand on what you read – make them your meaningful ideas!
A- FOR THE CAREGIVER specifically
Recognizing that caregivers are generally tired, and sometimes emotionally drained, you may feel the need to ask a doctor, or other family member, questions that you have as to what would be helpful, and what would not be good. After that, here are some ideas. Caregivers may or may not be ready for, or feel comfortable with, help. Seek the level of support you feel they would accept.
Every suggestion will NOT fit every caregiver’s needs.
- Statement recognizing the amazing job a caregiver is doing boosts their confidence to go on.
- Let caregivers lead the way in conversation topics. They may or may not want to discuss ongoing day-to-day situations at the moment.
- Participate with them in their self-care – exercise, meditation prayer
- Offer or give spa sessions, reiki or therapeutic touch sessions,
- Meet for coffee or go for walk in the park
- Bring a meal to relieve chef duties
- Offer to drive to classes you share with other caregivers
- Offer to drive a caregiver to and from an appointment
- Send a note of encouragement
- Bring a rose and a smile (check allergies)
- Offer to pick up pre-ordered groceries or do the shopping one week
- Offer to pickup pharmacy items
- Drop off a jar of jam or pickles or fruits; include a few moments of visiting
- Deliver a surprise dessert
- Share a book, yours or borrowed, that they might like to read
- Share a movie, yours or borrowed, they they might watch alone or with their loved one.
- Offer to have someone to be with the loved one while you meet with the caregiver for lunch, a gallery tour, a lecture, a class, a ‘free’ swim at the YMCA or an appointment.
- Encourage laughter, if only for a brief period.
- Offer to supply/pay for someone to clean their kitchen or home one month.
- Give caregiver a journal and pen to ‘write out’ her emotions to stay healthy.
- Financial assistance may be helpful and accepted if the need is known. Offer only if you can and wish to.
- Suggest free online music services, online podcasts or events or programs caregivers might like to know about, related to personal interests or to caregiving.
- Offer to take the caregiver and loved one on a drive in the countryside for a couple hours, or to a destination—a waterfall, a special shop, a restaurant etc.
- Invite the caregiver to play cards, substitute, with a group for socialization, especially if some members know the caregiver.
B- FOR THE LOVED ONE specifically so Caregiver has respite time
- Ask when you can sit with the loved one while caregiver leaves
- Offer to read to loved one
- Walk with loved one on a route well known to caregiver so they don’t worry
- Walk dog with loved one on route well known to caregiver so they don’t worry
- Sit and watch TV together, play cards together, play dominoes together.
- Do exercises together from the programs on this site
- Draw or paint together inside or outside.
- Gather items of the loved one’s choosing. Put in a scrapbook together. Use non-messy children’s glue.
- Each day draw a picture, let loved one tell you about it, write it
up and create a story book…subject could be loved one’s choice.
- Teach or use with them, ipad, ipod music with head set…ear buds might not work if they have hearing aids or can’t keep buds in.
- Play music, use simple tambourine, tin-can rice shaker, two chopsticks, instruments. (52 others online)
- Sing together using picture words or sheets with larger words.
- Listen to music from the videos on this site.
- Have casual conversation with snack break together
C- SUPPORT GROUPS for caregivers, caregivers and their loved one, or support for support teams. All are possible and necessary to specific individuals.
- Find existing local group where you can attend with other caregivers for socialization as well as information gathering.
- Ask Alzheimer’s organization, ask health or senior charities, ask businesses focused on health care, ask church groups, ask friends and neighbours, ask local librarian, to help locating a group for your needs.
- Find a Support Cafe that meets periodically where you can take prepared questions in hopes of finding solutions.
D- OTHER TYPES OF SUPPORT to seek out and have at hand, not specifically respite-type support related: (from Caregiver Tips page) (Links are many times for local services, but similar organizations can be sought out in your area)
- Behaviour specialists
- Caregiver support groups – other caregivers
- Community health charities or support programs
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s organizations locally and online
- Education support-classes or research online
- Friends and family – each one has unique talents to share
- Hospice and local palliative care support
- In-home support – respite and health-care services
- Legal and financial advisor support
- Medical professional support – keep the medical team close
- Online zoom teams or teleconferencing groups
- Physical support – therapy, exercise, health activities
- Respite services for both caregiver and loved ones
- Specialty behaviour groups
I encourage you to EMAIL ME with corrections, additions, and your comments that will enhance the life of caregivers.
“Quintessential Caregiver Support” (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone
Visit caregiver-books.com to learn more about challenges of a caregiver through caregiving stories. The author shares strategies, coping mechanisms, procedures and plans learned while caring for her loved one who had Alzheimer’s, anxiety, COPD plus other diseases.
Support groups use as a guide to discuss related important issues in their personal lives.
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