How to Support/Care for the caregivers in your lifeSep 10, 2022
My name is Daniela Mazal. I am a business owner, grad student, and a caregiver to my 14 month old son.
Additionally to running my business, I spent the pandemic as a full time caregiver to my mom while she battled lung cancer. She lived alone and I was her only child. I spend two years bi-costal flying back and forth across the country taking care of her until the pandemic hit and my husband and I moved in with her for 6 months to manage her end of life care. We navigated the hospice system, advocating for her wishes and taking full responsibility of her care.
1. What can a friend or family member do to assist the caregiver in their life? What are some forms of help that someone could provide?
While it is always nice to offer open ended help like "let me know if there is anything I can do." or "is there anything I can do to help?" These questions can be overwhelming for caregivers already juggling a million responsibilities and decisions every day.
Food is always welcome.
Be clear and concise in your offer. "I want to send you dinner on Thursday, any requests, any dietary restrictions? It will be there at 6pm, does that time work for you?"
Offer to take a shift. "Can I watch your son Wednesday evening so you can have some time to yourself." "How about I come over on Thursday for a few hours so you can shower and take a nice walk."
2. How can someone support a family caregiver without violating boundaries or hurting their feelings? For example, are there certain things to should avoid saying to a caregiver? Why or why
The number one questions that made my blood boil towards the end of my moms life was "what is the prognosis?" First of all this comes across as nosy and what it sounds like on the caregivers side is "when is your loved one going to die, I'm curious." The second issue with this question is nobody really knows. It is what we wonder day in and day out, how much time do we have left. It is what we think about constantly and don't need additional reminders.
Alternatively, here are some questions that really show you care and can feel good to hear for a caregiver:
"How are you holding up? How was today? Anything you need to get off your chest?"
3. What if you live in a different state or a different country from the caregiver in your life? Is there any way to provide support from afar?
Food is always a safe bet. As caregivers, taking care of ourselves is always challenging. Order delivery, something warm and easy.
Time is another thing that is not on our side. Things like keeping the house clean and organized tend to go to the wayside when you are in the thickets of caregiving. Hire cleaners or an organizer to take something off of the caregivers plate. Or maybe a few hours with a trustworthy home health aid, babysitter, or paid caregivers to give us a few hours to take care of ourselves.
4. Physical support for caregivers, like help with cleaning and cooking is important...but what about emotional support? What are some things you could say to a caregiver, to help them feel better mentally?
What you are doing is a thankless task and I truly know I will never know all that it entails. I am here to listen, anytime you need. Know that it is ok to have moments of resentment of those you care for and it doesn not make you a bad caregiver. You are doing an amazing job and I hope to one day have someone love and care about me a fraction of the amount that you clearly care and love.
5. Many caregivers don't like to ask for help. How can an outsider provide that help subtly or at least offer it? Do you have any recommendations for talking to someone?
Be clear and concise in your offer:
I want to send you food on Thursday night... where should I order from?
I want to buy you 3 hours with a cleaning service, do you have one I should call or would you prefer I do the research and find them myself.
I want to find you resources (transport, in home aid, caregiver care resources) would it be ok with you if I did some digging?
I want to get you an in home massage, is there a time that works for you?
6. Would you recommend any resources, such as books or websites, designed to support family caregivers?
I run a sliding scale and tuition free Pilates program for those in need that cannot afford our services. I am always happy to provide care for caregivers to give back for all that they do. Caregivers can schedule anywhere from 5-30 minute 1:1 sessions as well as request access to any of my online programs based on the time they have to take care of themselves.
Don't miss a beat!
New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.