September 15, 2019 by jas 🍦
How many times have you missed an opportunity to help someone in need?
More specifically, how many times have your reached out to ask how you can support or bring relief to a caregiver?
How often do we walk by someone and say, “Gee it’s too bad someone isn’t helping that poor soul?”
How many times do we look the other way, so we don’t have to respond with assistance for someone who really needs it?
How many times do we ask caregivers how they are, and when their response is “I’m fine,” we stop there? Even knowing there is truth beyond the common response, we don’t seem to want to hear.
We’ve read caregivers are the unsung heroes of the ever-increasing population of those with illnesses, and especially those with dementia. Their loved ones have professional help, yet the caregivers who are carrying the full burdens everyday are without the same professional care. They need our support when we can give it.
Although there are many ways we can support a caregiver, let’s consider here just the very basic situation of helping them get connected to ongoing relief and assistance.
Many times, caregivers don’t ask for help, yet desperately need it. They may be shy or embarrassed, they may be floundering in inexperience or have been silenced by the stigma of having to ask for a helping hand.
They may not even know what it is that they need, or how serious their need has become. Many have no idea where to go or whom to ask for help.
If we can recognize in someone that there is a need for assistance, we can ask them, “In what ways might we help?”
Even if we don’t have the answers, we can take the time to point the caregiver in directions that might manifest the help they need.
There are any number of support possibilities we can be to a caregiver struggling with one of the most difficult of roles, caring for another human being. The illness requiring such full-time assistance could be any disease, not just dementia. And it appears the stresses cause similar needs for respite across the board.
When we offer to help, we can preface with a statement saying we are not sure how much help we will be, but we can try to do something. If we stay within that limitation we can guide caregivers to someone else who might help.
We can suggest organizations the caregiver might call, depending on their urgency and distress. Or we can make the call to that group and suggest someone call the caregiver for an assessment of the situation. The caregiver might be able to continue searching for help from that point.
Support does not mean we are available-care 24/7 for any caregiver. But finding someone qualified to offer a few hours respite, even just once, could mean the caregiver could take a nap, go to the store, or see a doctor without worrying about the loved one during that period.
Some caregivers cannot go anywhere without their loved one for many reasons, so they either take them with them or stay home. That period of time offered can be helpful and greatly appreciated.
Many caregivers live in fear because they do not know who to call to get help, especially if they are on their journey alone. At the very least, we could try to get them connected to a lifeline support group. Those new contacts could move the caregiver out of the danger zone into a more manageable realm.
If, after we ask how we can help, and the caregiver does not know, we can brainstorm to generate ideas of who can help…even a neighbor who might get involved for a few moments. Keep notes for future emergencies.
It is more difficult when the caregiver does not know what they need. Generally, that is when the professional support team, a medical or psychology team, a specialty group related to the illness the caregiver is dealing with should be called in, but by the doctor or another lead person in the caregiver’s chain of care.
In a support role we might not have to do more than help figure out what might be needed and then suggest the appropriate organizations that give the type help the caregiver requires. We might also find someone else who can step in and carry on where we left off. We, alone, can do only what we can for them.
If we have more time or more specialized training, then we might have better resources to draw from and more advanced skills and knowledge that could be useful at this point.
We can always add to these gathered resource lists, but they are helpful to have handy.
Places and people who might be helpful to one who is supporting a caregiver, might include:
- Disease or health organizations or societies, local or in neighboring cities. Phone them or email from their website ‘contact us’ page, depending on the urgency.
- Local university departments that could recommend or make suggestions. A quick phone call might be all it takes.
- Doctors’ offices for the type diseases being discussed might have suggestions for organizations who could be helpful.
- Librarians might answer questions and be able to point us in the right direction.
- Government offices, at local, provincial or state, and national levels that are related to a health sector might be aware of helpful resources.
- Churches sometimes are tuned in to different services for various diseases. A call there might find yet unconsidered resources and help.
- Friends and neighbors are a great source for information. If we are caring for a caregiver who has a need we are unfamiliar with, ask our friends. This is one time the grapevine comes in handy….one knows someone who knows someone…we likely will find the right resource to help…if only bit by bit.
Once support and relief are organized, the caregiver’s confidence level generally resumes, and their caring abilities are strengthened.
In small ways, each of us can be the one to revitalize a caregiver’s courage and to inspire their continued success.
We can be the ones to provide reassurance, helping them to bridge the gap between fear and acceptance, between dread and confidence.
Even though these steps are for introductory type of support, each one of us can give ongoing encouragement and be an inspiration to a caregiver when we are able.
Who are the caregivers you can support simply by sending them this blog address to help them realize they are not in this alone?
Send them the link below so they can find this blog. If they like it, they can sign to receive notices of new posts, thanks to you!!
The link is: acceptingthegiftofcaregiving.com
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing! ~jas
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Fundamental Support for a Caregiver © 2019 Judith Allen Shone
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