Visiting Angels column: Don’t take for granted the aid a caregiver provides
This past weekend, in the wee hours of the morning, one of our caregivers had a particularly difficult situation develop with an Alzheimer’s patient. The situation elevated such that I needed to drive an hour to the client’s house to assist.
While we were able to deescalate the situation, the caregiver was quite traumatized and, selflessly, more concerned about the client than her own needs. Such is often the case when caregiving — it’s a selfless act of compassion and too often receives little praise or recognition.
Sometimes, caregivers leave their careers to become full-time caregivers for family members or friends. In doing so, sometimes they miss their own family events, such as a child’s birthday, a holiday or even their own anniversary. Caregiving is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job, with no sick days or paid time off.
Family and paid caregivers give so much and ask for so little in return. If there is a caregiver assisting a loved family member, then saying thank you for their time and dedication goes a long way.
• Give the gift of time: One of the biggest complaints caregivers have is being overscheduled and stressed. All the hours of the day are scheduled with appointments, tasks and responsibilities. It can seem as if there is no time to simply stop and enjoy a cup of coffee, take a walk or watch TV. Volunteer to take control of their role for a day so they can get away. Learning what their day looks like by walking in their shoes can be a very eye-opening experience.
• Run the errands: One of the hardest parts of acting as the family caregiver is to balance being at home providing care with still finding time to run errands and ensure the house is stocked with necessary supplies. Help your family caregiver by taking over the shopping list and running errands for them.
• Clean the house: Keeping up with housework can be difficult for some family caregivers. This is especially true when your loved one’s health begins to fail or if they have to spend time in the hospital. This is a great time to hire a cleaning service to come in and help your family caregiver with housekeeping chores.
• Stay in touch: It’s easy to get distracted by our own life responsibilities and forget to check in with the family caregiver. Don’t let life distract you from this essential task. Check in regularly to see how things are going, and provide your family member’s caregiver with an outlet to share, vent or talk about anything but caregiving.
The caregiver in your family is a blessing to your loved one. Help them stay energized by supporting them in their role. From providing a day off to listening, acting as a sounding board or helping with small things around the house, there are many ways you can show a caregiver appreciation.
To all the Visiting Angels caregivers: I am so honored to have such caring and thoughtful team members. To the many family caregivers helping others: I send you my heartfelt thank-you.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.