There are seasons in life when we’re in need of support, and then there are seasons where we’re able to help support others. Now that school is back in session, our daily routines have somewhat settled, and you can take a breath — look around. Who can you love on? Perhaps it’s a neighbor with an ailing spouse. A friend who is the primary caretaker of their elderly parents. Loved ones who have children with chronic medical conditions. The people who are giving so much of themselves are also in need of support, as they give so much of their time and don’t have a lot of it to take a breath or a break. So I think this season is the perfect season in which to love on the caregivers.
The caregivers are the people closest to those going through a crisis — medical or otherwise — and are often carrying an emotional burden that most don’t see. It’s also easy for the caregivers to fall off our radar because we don’t see them all the time due to the fact that they’re busy taking care of their loved ones. We often assume everything is okay, when it is often not. They’re selfless, loving, and the epitome of someone with a servant heart. Whether you know a caregiver personally or not, here are ways you can support any caregiver in your life.
1. Cook or Send Them a Meal.
This is the first thing we think of when offering to help someone — and for good reason. Caregivers often eat on the go and don’t have the time to prepare a home-cooked, well-balanced meal when their attention is otherwise occupied. Providing sustenance helps nourish the soul and is one less thing they have to consider during their day. Drop off a balanced meal on their porch or set up a meal train with their community of friends (and be sure to read our tips on meal trains here!). We also have a list of national food delivery places here.
2. Offer Respite.
Do they have young children at home you could babysit or take to and from school? Can you bring in their mail or water their plants? Can you take a shift at the hospital or at their home to allow them time to themselves? Do they have pets you can watch or keep? Think of all the little things that are constantly running through their head — those little “to dos” that stack up and feel so weighty — and offer to carry some of that load. They may not take you up on your offer at first, but keep asking. It’s one of the hardest things to do, letting someone help us (even when we desperately need it). But if you keep extending your hand, they’ll eventually take it.
3. Offer the Gift of Your Time.
Walking the road of being a caregiver is often a lonely one. They’re usually the first to hear any medical updates, the ones who are on the frontlines when their loved one is having a hard day. And sometimes they just need someone there with them to lend a shoulder to cry or lean on. Meet them up at the hospital, or bring them a cup of coffee to their house. Sit with them while they have a little downtime, and while they’re assisting their loved one look around and see what can be done — and do it. Do the dishes, take out the trash, tidy up the hospital room, thank the nurses at the nurses’ station. Our time is valuable and offering it selflessly to be with someone who needs us is one of the most priceless gifts we can give.
4. Research Resources for Them.
There are so many fantastic resources out there for those who are tending to the needs of loved ones. From churches that offer a night out for parents of children with special needs to support groups, non-profits that help with the financial burden of medical equipment, and so much more — spend an hour doing a little research and you’ll find so many wonderful resources out there! Compile them all, print them out, and put them in a little gift basket filled with a few of their favorite items. Offer to call on their behalf if they don’t have time, too.
5. Listen to Them.
No one should have to walk any road alone, especially one where they are caring for or grieving a loved one. So call them, or text them. Maybe it’s over the phone, over a walk or a quick coffee. Check in to see how they’re doing and only ask about them. They will inevitably tell you about how their loved one is doing or feeling. But it isn’t as often as we think that people ask about the caregivers. So be that person and ask what they need. Some questions you might ask:
How are you managing?
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Let me bring you some healthy salads and fruit for lunch next week.
What are some ways I can help you right now? Food? Respite? Financial?
When was the last time you took some time for yourself? Let me help on Saturday so you can have a break.
I hope this post is helpful, and if you have anything else you’d add please comment below. We have so many posts that could serve as resources — I’ve listed them below, too!