Vail Daily column: Giving back to the caregiver in your family
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This month is dedicated to primary home care providers who look after millions of Americans and enable them to safely live independently. However, primary care providers do not always shoulder the care-giving responsibilities alone. Family members, friends and neighbors quite often dedicate countless hours to providing care for their relatives and loved ones. While taking care of a friend or family member may not be pertinent to your life at this time, it is like that at some point, it will be.
GIVE THEM SOME TIME TO THEMSELVES
Being a caregiver is a selfless act. It means putting the needs of another before your own and often before the needs of your husband, children and job. It can be one of the most stressful roles a person takes on in their lifetime. If a family member is caring for a loved one, there are many ways you can give back to make their life just a little bit less stressful.
Give the gift of time. One of the biggest complaints caregivers have is being over-scheduled 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. Help the caregiver in your family by giving them some time to themselves to do the little things they often don’t have time for.
Volunteer to take over their role for a day so they can get away. If you are unable to help in person, hire an in-home care agency to provide respite care for your loved one.
One of the hardest parts of acting as the family caregiver is to balance being at home providing care while 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 daily housekeeping chores and deep cleaning that may otherwise not get done.
Fill the tank
Your family caregiver probably spends more time in the car than you realize. Between running errands and taking your loved one to doctor appointments, the gas tank is constantly in need of being filled. Help your family caregiver out by offering to fill the tank. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way.
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 to provide your family caregiver with an outlet to share, vent or just talk about anything but care giving.
If you start to see signs that being the primary caregiver is too much for your loved one, talk to them about options. Some option may include, volunteers available via religious organization, assisted living facilities, family, friends, and private duty home care.
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, listening and acting as a sounding board, or just helping with small things around the house, there are many ways you can show a caregiver appreciation.
Don’t take for granted the aid a care giver provides.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.