In the early days, weeks, and months after my son’s injury, support poured in through visits, gifts, financial support, meals, cards, Facebook messages, and prayers. Though people often asked what they could do to help, it was all I could do to get through the day, let alone think about delegating tasks to others. Fortunately there were those that helped me get organized and took on certain tasks without being asked.
As a caregiver, I was so thankful for all the help and support we received early on and still do. Just dealing with my son’s spinal cord injury was traumatic enough but I was also going through other difficult life changes at the time. I was newly separated, experiencing painful family issues and was needed to make major decisions for my own life. Everything was changing and I was experiencing a great deal of loss. One of the most hurtful losses was with certain friends and family members who did not provide support at a time when I needed it the most. Yet I soon found out from talking to other caregivers that they too experienced the pain and hurt of friends and family who had faded out of the picture.
While there are those who have exited my life, or are not as involved anymore, I am grateful to those who continue to support me and those friends who have come into my life since my son’s injury. Change is inevitable during times like these but it grieves me to see so many that suffer from loss of family and friends.
As caregivers, we most likely need to do a better job in letting our needs be known and learn to build our own support system. That can be hard when there are so many other things that require our attention. Though everyone’s needs are different, here is what I found has helped me the most.
1) Identify those faithful friends that are willing to provide support and stay in touch with them.
2) Let those friends know of your needs and ask what they might be able to do to help.
3) Find support through your church or a group that you are involved in.
4) Look for resources and organizations in your area that may provide help.
5) Join online support groups.
Though I feel it is important as caregivers that we do what we can to create support for ourselves, I think it is also important to share how friends and family can help be a part of that support system. Please feel free to share this article so friends and family members may better understand some of your needs. People often think that after being home for awhile, adjustments are made and their help is not as important. They need to know that caregiving can be exhausting, time consuming, and overwhelming, especially when your loved ones needs are great. Help is ALWAYS appreciated. Family and friends can help by…
1) Stay in touch through phone calls, messages, emails and visits.
2) Invite the caregiver and/or their loved one over for visits or out to events.
3) Offer to bring a meal from time to time and/or line up meals.
4) Volunteer to help with housework, yard work, odd jobs around the house or to run errands.
5) When visiting, ask if there are things you can do so the caregiver can rest.
6) If they have children, offer to take their children out with your family on outings.
7) Being willing to be trained in simple caregiving tasks so that the caregiver may leave the house for awhile.
8) Stay involved in their lives no matter how little you might think you have to offer. Every little thing is important when you are dealing with such a huge life adjustment.
9) If you have a broken relationship, find it in your heart to take the initiative to try and bring about healing.
I hope that in sharing these tips, and in you sharing this article, that you as caregivers are able to find needed support. Sometimes people just don’t know how to help and we don’t know how to ask for that help. If you are a friend or a family member reading this article, please reach out to the caregiver in need.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/1216/0347