Most of us provide care in some way. We are parents, grandparents, siblings, children, friends and neighbors and we care about the people around us. We try to look out for their needs and offer care when they need it. Then something big happens like a stroke, a heart attack, cancer or an accident. Care giving is taken to a whole new level. It requires numerous hospital trips. The stress of making sure everything gets done. The worry and concern for a person we deeply care about. It is hard work to be a caregiver in those difficult moments in life. And yet, many people do it everyday. There are people you know who spend hours each day taking care of the needs of someone else. Honestly, it might be you who are doing this selfless act of service everyday. Your life is about helping another person take care of themselves. Today I am think about you. I am thinking about all of those people who offer care in life’s painful moments.
There are two reasons I am thinking about caregivers. One is because I am watching my mom fulfill this role for my dad. The other reason is because of a conversation I had with my elders last night. We were going to pray for an Alzheimer’s patient and one of my elders said, “We need to pray for the person taking care of them.” Then he explained that most Alzheimer’s patients have no idea what is going on and it is the people around that person who are really struggling.
So today I want to offer my advice about caregivers.
1. Pray for them too. We really do need to offer up prayers for people who are under the stress and strain of caring for a loved one. Ask God to give them strength, peace and shower them with love. Ask God to bless their life in this difficult time.
2. Ask them about themselves. All of us are curious about the person who is receiving the care, but forget the caregiver. Sometimes it is nice just to have someone ask about them.
3. Help (at least offer). This can take many forms – offer a ride, take care of the lawn, stand by the bedside for a day so the person can take a break, etc. Don’t make empty offers and promises that you will never follow-up on. Be honest and do anything you can to help.
4. Food is important. All of us have to eat. Bring a meal. Take a drink. Here is a huge key – ask what the people really like. Showing up with a big fruit basket looks nice, but not everyone likes fruit (like me:-). On the other hand, chocolate is God’s gift to us, but some ungodly people think it is unhealthy:-) I would also suggest trying your best to coordinate with other people. Receiving two pot roasts on the same night can be overwhelming and make the caregiver sad, because now they need to take the time to share all they have been given.
5. Hugs are precious. Depending on the situation, a caregiver may be limited in the physical contact they have with the person they are caring for. A hug from a friend is a precious gift. Sometimes it is more valuable than any words that you can offer.
I know that none of these are new and insightful to most of you. I write this to remind myself to care for the caregiver. Maybe you can share your advice in the comments sections. Maybe it will inspire you in some way. Whatever happens, I thank God for the caregivers of the world.