November is National Family Caregivers Month, as proclaimed by President Obama. It is a month set aside to honor those who sacrifice time and energy to care for those they love, often quietly and without fanfare.
Caregivers may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. They may not want to bring an additional burden to those around them. Or they may have grown accustom to the work they have each day, forgetting to ask for help. Caregiving stems from love, but can be emotionally and physically draining. Now is the time to surprise them with a bit of love and support.
With more than 90 million caregivers identified in America, and surely many more who go unidentified, you likely have at least a few among your family and friends. November is a great time to take a moment and offer them a bit of help. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Bring some flowers or a warm meal if you feel so inclined, but your company will be a most welcome gift. Be flexible and willing to jump in to help with what’s happening when you arrive, whether it’s preparing a meal or even washing the dishes. Otherwise, just sit with the caregiver and family and friends. Bring a favorite cup of tea or coffee from a local shop and some fresh conversation for a bit of reprieve from the daily routine. Call or text the caregiver before arriving to find out if it’s a good time, but let them know you just want to pop by for a casual greeting. It may not be a comfort if they feel they have to prepare for your arrival.
Take a Chore
Alleviate some caregiver stress by volunteering to take on a task or two. The Caregiver Action Network recommends short respite breaks often for caregivers. What small task on a daily or weekly basis can you volunteer to take off a caregiver’s plate? Can you pick up medications or run an errand? Can you sit with the patient or drive them to an appointment? Encourage the caregiver to use that time just for themselves. A short nap, a quick break for exercise, or a little quiet time alone might be just what the caregiver needs to recharge and avoid burnout.
Send a Gift
Caring for the caregiver can be hard if you live far away, but don’t let that stop you from helping. Communicate with those locally or connect with their Lotsa Community to find out what the caregiver might need. Send a gift card to a favorite restaurant to alleviate cooking another meal. For a treat just for the caregiver, consider sending tickets to a favorite sporting event or a gift certificate to a local spa or salon. Give them the perfect excuse to treat themselves this National Family Caregivers Month.
Whatever you decide to do this month, make it personal and from the heart. Helping a caregiver is all about easing their daily tasks and bringing some relief to what can otherwise be an exhausting routine. Offer specific help they will love to accept and be there when they need you.