The Caregiver’s Caregiver
Chief Caregiver- every family has one. Whether it’s a spouse, child, parent or friend, in every support network there is always one person who takes the lead and the brunt of caregiving responsibilities. Some people take on the role with excitement, loving the feeling of being needed, while others may be more reluctant. Some approach it with cries of martyrdom while others jump in, never complain and only see the brightside.
Caregivers need care too
Regardless of how they view the job of caring for a loved one, there’s one thing that’s universally needed for all Chief Caregivers and that’s the Caregiver’s Caregiver. The role of being the main support for a loved one living with PsA or other health issues can be so rewarding, but it can also be beyond exhausting. Helping to navigate the challenges of a loved one living in pain can be extremely taxing at times and in order to best serve those they’re caring for, even the most joyful and loving of caregivers with seemingly boundless energy need back-up and a break.
That’s where the rest of us come in. Now before you start stressing out proclaiming, “I can’t take a shift.” “I don’t know how to be patient with someone.” “I don’t have time.” What I’m talking about isn’t necessarily relieving them of their duties for a day, although that would be an exceptional help, and honestly, you can find the time, and it’s not out of your capabilities to take on a few hours, but you knew that already. However, there are other ways you can jump in to help that can be invaluable to those who have taken up the mantle of being the chief caregiver.
Be a listening ear
First and foremost, just listen. Even if they’re crabby or overly dramatic, take some time to let them vent. Taking care of someone can feel really lonely and no matter how capable the person they’re caring for is, it’s a difficult road to navigate. So just give them a call or take their call and let them complain away. Don’t judge, don’t try to offer a better solution, just listen to what they need to say.
Food makes everything better. Why not coordinate a way to deliver a meal, or better yet, to take them out for even just an hour? A change of scenery and change in conversation can work wonders. Plus, most of the time the person they’re caring for needs a break from the routine just as much, so everyone wins. Should it be a situation where round the clock care is needed, then make arrangements for a friend or other loved one to come over for a bit?
Plan a good old-fashioned sleepover. If you can get the chief caregiver to go away overnight do it! I’m not saying you have to take on full responsibility while they’re gone, but why not grab another friend or relative and make a night of it spending the night watching movies, tag team helping and just hanging out. Even if the caregiver won’t leave, having some extra arms and people to hang out with is great too.
Offer to clean, who doesn’t love knowing they’re home is spic and span? Take a couple of hours and spruce up their joint for them or hire a professional for them to really make it sparkle.
A little gift
If time really is something you can’t offer, then small gifts can help too. This can be anything from an orchid to a magazine subscription to a fun monthly subscription box filled with goodies that they love. Or why not just send a lovely handwritten note letting them know how much you and the rest of the family appreciate what they are doing. Make it a point to acknowledge things they do that really set them apart and show their sacrifices and dedication don’t go unnoticed by you.
None of this change the fact that our loved one who is living in physical pain has to be all of our first priority but making sure those who are carrying the load of taking care of them stay healthy and happy both physically and mentally is also key. Think about it, see where you can bring some extra support and don’t ask, just do it. Everyone will be better off in the end.