There are many great forums out there for caregivers - both family and professional. People share all sorts of things on the forums, some happy things some sad, and many, many frustrating things. If you are a family caregiver and have been doing caregiving for any length of time I am sure there are things that frustrate you and things you just wish people would not say. Here are a few things people may say to you that could be said better, or maybe not said at all:
- ‘God Never Gives US More Than We Can Handle’
Now before you say anything I am not saying anything about religion here. It’s just that when you’re a full time caregiver like many are, doing this job 24/7, it does feel like more than you can handle and honestly most times it is. Saying ‘God knows you can handle it’ may make a person feel like God is punishing them, or perhaps does not care.
- ‘Is There Anything I Can Do To Help?’
This may seem like a good thing to say, however it is hard for caregivers to ask for help, especially from friends. Instead of asking what you can do, try telling the person, “I would like to bring dinner Wednesday what time is good?” Take the initiative. Dive in and help out. You could also offer to stay a few hours with mom, but again phrase it so they know you mean it like “ I’m off Saturday how about I stay with mom so you can go shopping, should I come by at 12”?
- ‘At Least You Have Your Family To Help’
This phrase can open up a whole life’s worth of hurt if in fact like so many family caregivers there is only one left doing all the work. It is very typical (trust me on this one) for one sibling to be living with mom or dad or both and doing the lion’s share of the work. Many family caregivers have no help at all from other family members and on top of full time caregiving, have to deal with resentment. So if you think this would be a good thing to say please make sure you know that others are sharing the load.
- ‘You Need To Make Time For Yourself’
Every caregiver knows this, but putting it into practice without someone stepping up to help is in many cases impossible. If you know a caregiver needs a break, then by all means make it happen for them. Time to oneself is a highly valued commodity that is seldom available to family caregivers.
“Doing something is many times better than just saying something.”
If you are the friend of a caregiver there is so much you can do that will cost little or nothing at all but your time. Treats, dinners, a card or flowers all can brighten up their day. Spending time helping out around the house, doing some laundry, picking up groceries or giving the caregiver a date night all say so much. They show that you understand and care about them and what they are handling. Most caregivers do what they do out of love and that is a wonderful thing. Be there to support them, lend a listening ear. We are all on this journey we call life together and some of us just have a heavier load right now.