If a caregiver could talk to her/his friends who want to help, here are seven things that a caregiver might say:
1. Don’t avoid me. Be the friend you have always been. Come on over, but call before you come because sometimes we’re out for appointments, or we’re busy around here. It can get lonely here with just us. And sometimes it gets boring.
2. When you visit me at home, don’t judge me or pity me. I am doing the best I can at this work. You don’t have to feel sorry for me. I am here doing this work because I am doing it for one I love. You don’t have to fix or improve the situation. Just be a companion. The time I spend as a caregiver may be long or it may be brief, but it will pass. Talk, laugh, share, and listen. That’s all.
3. Invite my family members to join in your activities. Take my kids and teens out with your family members when you go to the park or to the movies. They need a break. Could you drive them somewhere when I can’t get away to do that? That really would help me.
4. Help me keep in touch with everyone we both know. Tell them to call and send cards or come visit. I am still interested in being a part of their lives. My past experiences and memories are important to me. So, is my future, and someday I will be able to take up the work and pastimes I once had.
5. What you could bring with you: a cheerful, smiling face, magazines or books we might like to read, a DVD movie or music we might like, food in disposable containers, flowers, old photos to talk about, a funny story.
6. Offer to do a quick chore: take the trash can out, wash my car, bring some groceries, water the house plants, sweep the porch, change a burned-out light bulb, do some pet care for me. You don’t know how much it will mean to us to have a few minutes to rest instead of tending to these chores.
7. Will you come again, or call? For just a short while? Maybe we could all go out, perhaps to your house. Or, maybe you could stay with my loved one for an hour while I go out to get my hair cut or take some time with the kids. Sometimes, I may need you to do something, but mostly, I need you in my life.
Thanks. I mean that. Thank you.