Chances are you know someone caring for a loved one who is sick or has a disability. This could be due to an illness such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke, or a variety of other conditions. Some family members provide live-in care, others visit daily or weekly, and some oversee care from a distance, or care provided by hired aides or a nursing facility.
No matter how the caregiver performs his or her role, caregiving is a tough job, requiring resources that are often scarce: time, money, support, and assistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability, and an estimated 21 percent of households in the USA are impacted by caregiving responsibilities.
Almost all of this work is unpaid, typically provided by family members and often performed around the clock with no breaks. Also, many caregivers juggle other responsibilities such as jobs, raising children, and managing their own households.
November is National Caregivers Appreciation Month, and a great time to reach out to those providing care and help lighten their load. In recognition of those who work tirelessly and selflessly to care for a loved one, below are 12 ways to offer assistance and let caregivers know that you care. These people need support and often that support does not cost much, if anything, and takes little time.
- Ask if you can sit for them a little while so they can run errands, take a break, see the doctor, or attend church or a caregiver’s support group, whatever they need to do to take care of themselves.
- Going to the grocery store? Call and ask if there is anything you can pick up for them.
- If your employer allows, donate paid sick time, vacation days, or personal time to a coworker caring for a relative who is hospitalized or needs post-hospital care.
- Volunteer to mow the lawn, weed the garden, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow.
- Share the bounty, whether from your vegetable or your flower garden. Fresh produce and fresh flowers are cheerful.
- If you have the skills and tools, offer to change the oil in their car and rotate the tires.
- Again, if you have the skills and tools, offer a free haircut to the caregiver and/or their loved one.
- Walk their dog.
- Ask if they would like you to wash and clean out their car.
- Volunteer to take out the trash and bring the barrels out to the curb on trash day.
- Double cook a meal, preferably one of their favorites, and send over a dinner.
- Include them in your prayers.
For more information about caregiving and caregivers, please follow #AlzAuthors on Twitter during National Caregivers Appreciation Month in November 2015, or find AlzAuthors on Facebook.
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up, but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, BookWorks featured book, IndieReader Approved, and winner of IndieReCon’s 2014 Best Indie Novel Award. A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and when not writing, works as a campus nurse at a community college. She can be reached via her website, Facebook, and Twitter.