Being a caregiver requires a lot of time, patience, supplies, and support. Often times, caregivers spend so much time looking after someone else that their own wellbeing goes unchecked. Because the job of a caregiver is so mentally demanding, caregivers are at risk of suffering from depressive conditions like caregiver burnout, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and major depression. Take a quiz to see if you are suffering from high levels of caregiver stress. Caregivers can get easily overwhelmed, but don’t wait for the caregiver you know to ask for help before you offer it. Sometimes, caregivers don't know how to ask for help, or they don’t recognize the signs of extreme stress until they are completely engulfed in it.
There are many little things that you can do for your loved one who is a caregiver. Small gestures can make a big difference in the day, week, or month of a caregiver. Think of ways that you can give them some time to themselves so they can rest and recharge. Caregivers need breaks, and they need time away from the person for whom they are caring. They need moments where they can care only for themselves.
Here are some “gifts” that you can give to a caregiver:
- Bring a meal to the caregiver and eat with them, or bring a meal to the senior and send the caregiver off on a lunch break.
- Take the senior on an outing - eat a meal, have coffee, go to a movie, go to the park, or do anything else that is appropriate for the senior.
- Stay with the senior for a few days to give the caregiver a short vacation.
- Some assisted living communities like the Cottages offer caregiver appreciation meals. Stay with the senior while the caregiver attends one of these types of events.
- Spend time with the senior doing a fun activity while the caregiver takes a few hours to be alone.
Remember that helping the caregiver take a break is not a one-time thing. Offer to do all of these things more than once. If possible, schedule weekly or monthly times where you can take over and give the caregiver a chance to take a break. Nobody should be expected to do a job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no breaks. It cannot be done, and it’s not healthy to try it. Be a caregiver to the caregiver, because we all deserve a chance to be alone, to relax, and to breathe.