3 Things Family Carers Need
“How are you doing?” is a question we ask and hear often, but sometimes it is just another way of greeting someone. Detailed answers about how a person is really doing—in regard to their health, work or personal life—are not usually expected.
If you know someone who is a family carer, consider digging a little deeper the next time you ask them that question. People who are family carers may be feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, or any number of other emotions and conditions that other people might not notice. Chances are they would appreciate someone listening to them—and offering help.
“While nonprofessional caregivers provide invaluable service to others—often jettisoning careers and personal desires in the process—they often have not been asked how they are doing,” notes an article in Next Avenue, an American online publication for older adults.
What’s more, health care providers typically don’t ask family carers how caregiving is affecting their well-being, nor do providers consider how caregiving might be affecting carers’ health. This makes it even more important for friends and family to ask these types of questions.
There are many ways to make a meaningful difference for family carers. Here are three things carers often say they need, along with specific ways family and friends can help.
Family Carers Need Help
Most carers will say they do not have enough time in a day to complete all of their caregiving duties and take care of their own needs, whether those be home, family, work or other responsibilities. Here are some ideas to help:
- Ask, “What can I do to help today?” Asking, rather than assuming, what they need is crucial. Asking for specifics is better than a vague offer like, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” Be prepared to help with anything from visiting to housecleaning or running errands.
- Instead of “today,” maybe you can say “every day this week” or even “from now on.” Recognize that their need for help will continue for as long as they are a carer.
- Carers who are thrust into the role suddenly may need help learning things like how to bathe the person they are caring for or how to change their incontinence briefs. Help them by finding YouTube videos or other resources.
Family Carers Need Financial Support
There is a good chance the carer has had to reduce their work hours or even quit their job. They may be using their own funds to pay for home health care services or home health aides. You might help them by:
- Offering to help pay for in-home services or any supplies they use that are not covered by insurance.
- Asking if there are times of day when you can stand in for them while they are at work.
- Treating them by bringing a home-cooked meal or dessert, or their favorite take-away meal. First ask them when would be a good date and time.
Family Carers Need a Break
The common theme running through all of these carer needs is time. Family carers need more time than just to take care of their own tasks. They also need time to rest and recharge or go on holiday. Here are some ways you can help:
- Look into local care homes or rehabilitation centers that offer respite care. The person who needs care moves into the facility temporarily, allowing the family carer to take a break from caregiving. The older adult will enjoy the same meals, care and activities as the other residents. Perhaps you can also offer to help pay for respite care. In-home care agencies also provide respite care for older adults—the advantage here is that the person can be cared for in their own home while the family carer is away.
- Work with other family members to create a schedule for caregiving while the primary carer takes some time off. Agency caregivers can also help fill out the schedule.
- Buy the carer an outing they would enjoy. Movie or theatre tickets, a spa day, or a tee time (and a cart!) at the local golf course are just some examples. Arrange replacement care while they are out.
Play to Your Strengths
The United States’ National Institute on Aging (NIA) offers some wise advice when deciding how to offer help. “When thinking about who should be responsible for what, start with your strengths,” the NIA advises. “Consider what you are particularly good at and how those skills might help in the current situation.” If you are a wizard at cleaning, offer that. Enjoy research? Help with information on care and medical conditions. It is important to offer help, but equally important to do it in a way that is sustainable for you.
Professional In-Home Care Can Help
Professional in-home caregivers can help family caregivers by taking over caring duties on a schedule that works for everyone. From nursing and personal care to companionship and more, in-home care services can make a big difference in the daily life of both the family caregiver and the person needing help.
Why Right at Home?
- Over 20 years of experience. Right at Home has been providing award winning customized senior care and home care for over 20 years.
- YOUR Caregivers are all part of YOUR Care Team. This means that there is no revolving door of Personal Support Workers and Nurses. With the help of your Care Planner, you choose and get to know them. This leads to an level of care for your loved one that is unsurpassed in our industry.
- Working with government support. Your Care Planner will work to help you find the government supports you are eligible for (if you would like them) and then work to find a solution for the care needs that go above what government and family can do. We will also work around the government care plan so that we are enhancing it.
We help in home, wherever home is to you.
Our Caregivers are always out in the community visiting homes, Retirement Residences, Long Term Care (LTC), hospices and hospitals.