There are millions of people who are involved in caregiving for a relative who is sick or disabled, short or long-term. Studies show that this is tough on their own health, energy and finances, and even more importantly on their morale. The associations between physical and psychological health and being an informal caregiver are well established, with caregivers reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. So how can we all help? Here are three concrete ideas that any of us can do:
- Say thank you with a phone call, a message or a card: Does not need to be big or elaborate – just do it. You can also give them a copy of your favorite funny movie or a book on tape – distractions help. The AARP runs the ThanksProject.org – a fantastic collection of ways to acknowledge and e-thank caregivers among us.
- Give them a day off or even a meal off: Even dropping off a meal can mean a break from having to do it all! Usually help with practical daily chores is really appreciated – doing a shopping run, cleaning the yard from leaves, gathering the snow or throwing some salt on pathways if icy. If you are too busy or don’t live close by, offer them help through a service like ours.
- Help celebrate holidays: For example decorate a family caregiver’s home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for his or her holiday cards. Daily life is so busy as it is, that managing the additional workload related to a holiday is often impossible.
These ideas are very actionable and especially will be life lessons for young kids who learn by example. So get them involved and see the miracle of how helping others makes your family tighter and happier.
Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, Mom of three, CEO of myBestHelper, best place for families to find helpers