Beanery Online Literary Magazine

January 28, 2010

How to Give Support to Caregivers




It’s not just about the person who has that disease (whatever it may be), but everyone who loves and cares for that person.  —Leeza Gibbons*

     In today’s world of expensive nursing home care, low or no insurance, and the worry of finding a good home for a loved one, more and more of us find ourselves becoming a caregiver in our own home.
     I’ve found through my last five years, as my husband’s a caregiver,  that often my friends will call to ask how he is, what he needs, if they can stop by to visit him. What they don’t think, or don’t realize, is that maybe they can help me too. 

     Care-giving is a non-stop job. It never ends—not when the person is asleep, not when they are in the hospital for something, not ever.  The home caregiver and the patient are always one – they become one as both lives revolve around each other, totally dependent on each other. As a result, my friends who have lost their spouse, after care-giving them at home, find themselves completely lost for quite some time. 
     What I find helpful is if friends and family understand that the caregiver is not just someone who takes care of the ill person.  The caregiver still exists as an individual, with needs of their own that often go unmet. 

     If it takes a town to raise a child, it surely takes a country to care for the ill.       

     Everyone, including you, knows someone who cares for an ill relative. And everyone, including you, can offer much more than help to the patient.  You have the ability to lighten the burden of the caregiver, to realize that no matter how much they love the person they are caring for, it is a burden—one they grasp onto willingly, and with the hope that they are giving the best care to this person that they could ever get.


     With this in mind, I have a few tips for those of you who visit a home where there is a caregiver.
     First, when you