My heart and mind are open to accept God’s unlimited presence of love. I know love moves into the very cells of my being, bringing light, harmony and peace. I ask for guidance as I go about serving those loved ones around me. I know that wisdom guides my decisions, love expresses through my words and grace steers my actions. I invite God’s healing presence of love to wash away any doubt or fear. It is love that I welcome and embrace into my life. I eneter this day with a grateful heart and receive the blessings God has in store for me. Amen.
(From Anatomy of Caring by Christine Green)
It is common for caregivers to feel like they are alone. I can be so helpful to have information and resources close by.
Below are a few helpful resources and links for caregivers.
Family Caregiver Alliance
AARP on caregiving
National Alliance for Caregivers
Caregivers have so much that they are dealing with. We want to help but sometimes don’t know how.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Communicate by email rather than phone whenever possible. It gives the caregiver the freedom to respond at a time that is convenient for them.
- Practice “Don’t Ask, Don’t Call.” Resist the need to call and ask how their loved one is doing.
- Visit only when invited. Some patients like visitors, while others like quiet. Respect their wishes and their healing process.
- Instead of saying, “Call me if you need anything,” let them know what you are available for: rides to the hospital, bring lunch to them at hospital, buy groceries, make phone calls, etc.
- Refrain from telling the caregiver they look tired. They know they look tired. They are too exhausted to even be standing. Tell them you admire their courage, their commitment, their devotion to their loved one. Find something positive and uplifting to say.
- Once things calm down, offer to take the caregiver to coffee or lunch. If they are not up for it, bring them a meal or send them a restaurant gift card. They will be thrilled you thought of them.
- Pray. Prayers are powerful and they work! Both the caregiver and patient really appreciate them.
This is from the Family Caregiver Alliance website. Great tips for the new caregiver.
It is easy to become overwhelmed as a new caregiver. Five steps that can help are:
- Start with a diagnosis. Learning about a family member’s diagnosis helps caregivers understand the disease process and plan ahead realistically.
- Talk about finances and healthcare wishes. Having these conversations can be difficult, but completing Durable Powers of Attorney for finances and healthcare can help relieve anxiety and better prepare for the future.
- Consider inviting family and close friends to come together and discuss the care needed. If possible, it’s helpful to include the care recipient in this meeting. This meeting gives caregivers a chance to say what they need, plan for care and ask others for assistance.
- Take advantage of community resources such as Meals on Wheels and adult day programs. These resources help relieve the workload and offer a break. Look for caregiver educational programs that will increase knowledge and confidence.
- Find support. The most important thing is for caregivers to not become isolated as they take on more responsibility and as social life moves into the background. Online and in-person groups can be very helpful in connecting with others in the same circumstances. Caregivers can call Family Caregiver Alliance at (800) 445-8106 to learn about local services, or visit http://www.caregiver.org, and click on “Family Care Navigator.”
Great article about holiday gifts ideas for caregivers from the University of Buffalo.
Some of the gift ideas are:
1. The gift of time. Create a personalized gift certificate that states the date(s) when you will take care of the loved one, and for how long.
2. A chance to be pampered. A gift certificate for a massage, a visit to a spa or salon and then offering to stay with the care recipient or arranging for someone else to stay with the care recipient provides the caregiver with a much-needed opportunity to relax and unwind.
3. Movie tickets or a dinner out. Make arrangements to have the care recipient taken care of while you treat the caregiver to dinner in a restaurant or to a show.
4. Housecleaning, snowplowing or landscaping service. Any type of service that allows a professional to take care of something that the caregiver would ordinarily do can ease the caregiver’s burden.
I’ve been writing about caregiving the past few months and reflected on the powerful examples in my family. Years ago my grandparents emigrated from Poland to the United States in search of a better life for their families. My Dad was one of the oldest of twelve children and he left high school to get a job so he could help support his family.
In the 1960′s my grandfather suffered a number of strokes and was unable to walk. He weighed over 200 pounds and my grandmother wasn’t strong enough to move him. For ten years, my mother went to their home every night and put my grandfather to bed and each morning she got him up and dressed and sat him in his chair. Now my sister cares for my Dad who lives home alone and my Mom who lives in a nursing home.
I could list endless stories of family and friends who care for each other in time of need. I’m sure you have a list of your own caregivers.
Caregiving is complex. It demands us to be patient, strong, persistent, fearless and gentle. We are called on to be advocates, listeners, errand-runners and negotiators. At the same time we deal with our own feelings of guilt, failure, disappointment and fear. All while trying to take care of ourselves so we can care for others.
And yet in the midst of pain, fear and sorrow, the opportunity to be a caregiver is truly a gift. The time we spend with our loved ones is precious. There is an awareness of love that is amazingly profound. We experience an extraordinary deepening of faith.
Who cares? I do. And I know you do. We care because we love and we love because we care.
I absolutely know that God cares for us and loves us unconditionally. And just when we think we can’t face another day, God sends us a caregiver to give us a call or a hug or lend a helping hand.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 Praise God.
November is National Family Caregiver month. It is an opportunity to bring awareness to the challenges and issues of being a caregiver.
There are over 65 million family members serving as caregivers. Let us use this month as an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of caregivers and educate all of us on the issues.
“The true strength of the American family finds its roots in an unwavering commitment to care for one another.” President Barack Obama, 2009 NFC Proclamation