I asked a group of caregivers themselves
I thought I would try. What did I have to lose?
So I typed in my question, What do caregivers need? What I didn’t know was that I would still be getting responses 14 hours later.
So here is my research and the answer to the question, What do caregivers need?
And the best part is this — it’s from actual caregivers.
Give them breaks
Krista wrote: “Respite was the thing we needed most. Caring 24/7 for a loved one is exhausting. An afternoon or weekend break is a must!
We were fortunate and found an excellent elder daycare facility. We took our loved one there once a week. It allowed us to get out for lunch together, and I could also do any necessary shopping. Sometimes we just need a break.”
Give them emotional support
Danielle wrote, “I would love it if someone asked me how I am doing. I really need the emotional support. Taking care of someone 24/7 is depleting. And without something in our tanks, we can’t be expected to meet the needs of another.”
Joy responded, “I feel isolated with all of the negativity I deal with. To be asked how I’m doing sounds wonderful. It would make me feel less separated from everyone, that’s for sure. Sometimes it feels like the world is going on and I’m not a part of it.”
Pray for them
“I don’t know about anyone else,” Barb wrote. “But I need prayers for strength and comfort. There are some days I feel like I can’t do another thing. And I know with God all things are possible. I also need wisdom that I will make the right decisions. We have so many things to tend to and if an emergency arises, I want to know I’m making the right decision.”
Connie wrote, “I find it so encouraging when my friend calls to ask me how she can be praying. She understands I have little time to call her so she initiates. I cannot tell you how touched I am when we are done talking and she says, ‘Let me pray for you,’ mentioning all the things I shared with her.”
Give them understanding
Susan wrote, “I just need someone to listen and to understand that it’s hard. I don’t like to complain, so it’s difficult to talk about my responsibility with my mom without sounding tired. And I don’t care for her 24/7 like others who are here, but even so, she is a handful.”
Those who care for others need to know someone cares about them as well. That their needs matter. And if they feel heard, resentment will be less likely.
Give them time for themselves
Devan said, “Sometimes I wish someone would come and relieve me for even an hour so I could pamper myself. It would feel so wonderful.”
“Yes,” Vickie wrote, “I just need a little time for myself.”
George added, “In today’s world, putting yourself first isn’t an option when your heart tells you to do your best and care for those who once cared for you.”
George was right. Those taking care of aging parents, are moving according to what their hearts dictate. They put themselves last. But in order to do their best in caring for others, they need to take care of their own needs.
Share words of encouragement
Barb added, “It’s important to remember that many of us struggle as we watch our parents deteriorate. There is grief involved. It’s like some of us dies along with them.
It would be wonderful to hear words of encouragement on the job we’re doing. And when we’re doing well, it would be nice to hear it. Words of praise can give us so much energy and help us ward off weariness and discouragement.”
“I agree with that,” Eric wrote. “It’s possible that family members don’t realize what we’re doing as caretakers and we could be thought of as lazy. That is so hard to hear.”
“This is a job learned by doing, just like parenting,” Tonia added.
This experience showed me how tender-hearted caregivers are. They need to be lifted up too.
Bobbie was next. “I wish someone would come and visit with them, or take them to dinner, so that dinner out or alone would be possible, without us feeling guilty.”
“Yes,” Dave wrote, “Not only a visitor for them, but someone we could talk to. To offer a little TLC. The stress was close to unbearable at times.”
Stephanie added, “Visitors are a huge need. Even dropping in for an hour, or even 30 minutes. It’s nice to see a smile on their faces. Or to have something to look forward to. My dad’s mood always became brighter leading up to the days of a visitor. It was very special.”
Give them a hand
Sandra added, “Rather than someone asking what they can do to help, they need to just do something. Sending a meal is always good. Having food sent helps so much. It means one less thing for me to think about. You have no idea how much that is appreciated!”
Many liked her comment. Others did too.
Often people will step back saying, “Let me know if you need something.” But when you are caring for an aging or ill parent, it is overwhelming at times. And depending on how tired you are, you may not think clearly enough to know what you need at the moment. Better to ask yourself, if I were in that position, what would I need?
Give them a little gift
“Gifts,” wrote Carol. “One day, when I was about to leave home, I noticed a gift bag by my back door. Inside was my favorite magazine, some hand lotion and a CD I loved. My friend touched my heart by letting me know, even though I couldn’t spend time with her, she was thinking of me.”
Give them grace
Thinking of all their answers I see that caregivers need grace for every moment they give to their families. Grace is something we can extend no matter what.
Grace lets them know that we see the sacrifices they make and we are 100% behind them. God gives us grace to pass it along.
Grace says we understand how hard this must be, and we will be patient with them. Our words should drip with grace.
Caregivers give so much. Doesn’t it make sense that we can give to them as well?
Note: I’d like to thank each and every person who responded to my question on my Facebook page. Now let’s meet those needs.
Call to Action:
Do you know a caregiver who you can encourage?
Name one thing that surprised you about what a caregiver needs.
I’d love to know what you think.