February 03, 2021 (c) by Judith Allen Shone
We hear it all the time: “…caregivers need connections, they hunger for support.”
It’s true…but how can we encourage caregivers? How can caregivers ‘get connected’?
At first, caregivers who are unknowingly evolving into their new role are trying to interpret what the transitions happening all around them might mean, especially when memory loss is the furthest thing from their mind!
One thing we do know for sure is that whomever does become a caregiver will yearn for help, will search for encouragement, and will benefit from reassurance.
Most of all we know caregivers can carry out their role better with understanding, friendships, interactions, resources and information to help them realize, in some small way, that they are not forgotten while on a journey that many usually walk alone. Yet, caregiving can be an overwhelming, exhausting role that is filled with happiness as well as anxious moments.
Be one who generates moments of joy.
Listen to their story. Offer something that might help.
The items here reflect that we are in the period of COVID-19 pandemic. At other times more social activities can be added.
(A) – CONNECTIONS FOR INTERACTIONS:
Use this growing list of suggestions, or formulate your own plan of action, to help a caregiver who is perhaps going through the hardest time of their life.
WRITE ONE OR TWO DOWN to help you remember!
- Give caregivers the phone numbers of the Alzheimer Society, or organization, a (provincial) government office, other local health care agencies (ie: Acclaim Health, Lifemark Health in Canada) that could be helpful.
- Give caregivers the name of The Ontario Caregiver Organization or other helpful charity resource sites, locally or online.
- Discreetly discover if they need financial assistance and get the connection started. Financial stress is stops productive caregiving!
- Make a phone call to check on how they are doing.
- Send an email attaching a small cartoon for a laugh or a moment of relief.
- Mail a greeting card with a kind, personal note.
- Make a connection on social media sharing a helpful resource…socialness is important to both caregiver and loved one.
- Mail instructions for a game that might offer a social interaction.
- Send an email with beautiful photographs to look at.
- Collect old greeting cards and send them for loved one to look at or to create a project with them.
- Suggest a link to an online video you think would be appropriate.
- Listen to the stories of their frustrations and successes as a caregiver.
- Ask how you can be most helpful generally, or on a specific day for a specific event.
- Introduce them to a service that might be helpful.
- Offer to drive to a pedicure or manicure appointment.
- When possible, drop a meal off on a day you can.
- Offer to connect them to Meals on Wheels or other charity meal service.
- Pick up a fast food meal and deliver it.
- Offer to pick up a grocery order and deliver to the home.
- Offer to pick up pharmacy/medications if delivery unavailable.
- Remind them of TV programs they might enjoy.
- Suggest a website that might be helpful.
- Talk with them over zoom instead of visiting in pandemic times.
- Go for a walk together.
- Take time to draw together, talk recipes, children, hobbies.
- Play cards online together.
- Stay with the loved one while caregiver gets a necessary break.
- Introduce caregivers to each other…caregivers tend to encouarage one another.
- In a home scenario, can you cut their grass?
- In a home setting, can you empty wastebaskets and take out their trash cans to the street?
or bring the empty bins back to the house?
- In an apartment/condo scenario, can you take their trash bags down to the dumpster?
- Can you run a vacuum over their floors? Wash the dishes in the sink?
- Can you offer to change the bed or be with the loved one while caregiver does laundry?
- Get caregivers connected with local transportation services, Uber/cabs, local call-and-ride programs, Red Cross, neighbourhood volunteer transport, special-needs busses.
- Find day programs that assist those with memory loss to free-up caregiver time for necessary tasks.
(B) – CONNECTION OPTIONS FOR EXPLORING:
- Share the video link , “A Conversation for Caregivers with Judy Shone” ... a video that shows a caregiver talking about finding her way, sharing that we learn as we go. This caregiver connection will be meaningful to caregivers everywhere.
- Google to find the name of the Alzheimer’s organization in the caregiver’s area…they can then communicate via phone or email. Look for Alzheimer Society in Canada and Alzheimer’s Association, in US. Those organizations will refer other resources to the caregiver.
- Suggest my blog, Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, where the voices of many caregivers have been shared – intended to be a hand extended to those who want to connect with someone so they don’t feel alone.
- Give them this email address and they can ask me anything… I can be a middle man to an appropriate connection.
- Email the links to the books online to them (All formats available and the printed books have large print)
they can look under Judith Allen Shone-shows both books
- Give them link to order locally or from online….the set Accepting the Gift of Caregiving series books:
“Is There Any Ice Cream?” – first book is beginning stages
“Did You Hide the Cookies?” – second book carries on into middle and early late stages.
- Suggest other books that relate to caregiving, from the AlzAuthors site where the books are organized according to category/topic focus.
- 8. Introduce them to Teepa Snow, dementia educator…a little at a time.
Ways to be a Connection (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone
A peek inside the life of a caregiver to help reduce misunderstandings and fears in a world that many seem to be ‘falling into’ every day.
Half a million caregivers caring for half a million diagnosed with memory loss, means those of us who have walked that path are needed to help encourage, reassure and suggest resources for others.