Today, there are over forty-five million unpaid family caregivers. Caregivers manage a high level of stress and numerous responsibilities each day. Often, many family caregivers still work at least part-time in addition to caring for an aging parent.
Caregiving is not easy. It can be a very demanding role both emotionally and physically. Due to this stress, it is not uncommon for caregivers to experience burnout. Burnout can manifest in a number of symptoms including increased stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression. Caregivers who are at risk of burnout may be easily irritated, experience the loss of enjoyment in their favorite activities and withdraw from friends and family.
It is critical for us to help the caregivers we know before burnout becomes an issue. Let us share a number of ideas you can use to support the caregivers in your life right now.
1. Make meals.
Prepared meals are a great way to help a caregiver. Although it may seem like a small thing to do, having a meal prepared in advance can greatly reduce a caregiver’s stress as it is one less thing he or she needs to handle during the day. If you decide to make meals, be sure to ask if there are any dietary restrictions you need to be aware of in advance.
2. Do the grocery shopping.
It can be difficult for the caregiver to fit grocery shopping, into his or her busy schedule. Ask the caregiver for a weekly grocery list and pick the groceries up! When you have extra time, you can continue to help by offering to prepare some of the meals for the week.
3. Do the laundry.
Outsourcing dirty clothing to laundry companies can become expensive, but many caregivers simply do not have the time to do the laundry. You can help caregivers by completing this task for them each week.
4. Help with yard work.
In the spring and summer when the grass is quickly growing, the yard can quickly get out of control when there are a few missed weeks of work. When caregivers have a few spare moments, however, yard work is rarely at the top of their list. Help them out by taking over the yard duties such as weeding, watering or mowing the lawn.
5. Offer a respite visit.
While many caregivers do not voluntarily take time for themselves, it is crucial for mental health. Help the caregiver in your life by allowing him or her to schedule alone time by providing a respite visit. Even if you can only give a few hours, this can make a world of difference for the caregiver.
No matter how big or small the gesture you make, any bit of help can alleviate the stress in a caregiver’s busy schedule. Use these ideas or develop your own to help the caregivers in your life. Be sure to help out when you can and also be on the lookout for signs of burnout before they happen. If you or your loved ones need help with elder law planning, do not wait to contact our office and schedule a meeting with Attorney Alan Hougum.