Saturday, March 12, 2016

Coffee for the Caregiver - No Guilt Trips

Guilt is something that almost every caregiver struggles with on a daily basis.

If someone is caring for an elderly parent, they probably face the guilt that they might not be pleasing them with everything they do. The parents might not like what they make to eat, or might not like how they care for them. A caregiver might feel that they just can't do enough - whether in keeping a parent clean or the home clean. They feel overwhelmed, and they feel guilty.

The same is true for those dealing with a child with special needs. There are so many options for therapies etc, and sometimes not choosing one or another can bring guilt. Sometimes there is guilt when you make a decision, and then it does not seem like the right one. Guilt can become an overpowering thing if it is allowed to stay present.

So how can you as a friend or family member of a caregiver help with the guilt? You can help a caregiver by not barraging them with suggestions for this and that. I know that I have too often been a suggestion person. It is important to know that the caregiver has likely done hours of research on their particular situation. Don't add more guilt.

The spiritual life of a caregiver is difficult. If you notice that your friend or family member cannot make it to church, do not say, "we missed you on Sunday." You probably mean well, but that can bring a twinge of guilt. Instead, just ask how they are doing, and if you run across a book or Bible study that you have found helpful, pass it on to them.

If you visit someone who is being a caregiver either to see them or the person they are caring for, do not bring up all of the things that they are not doing around the house. Instead, ask if you could give the caregiver a break to get out of the house. When you come over to give the break, ask where cleaning supplies are saying that you just want to give them a hand. You may think that someone who is "just" staying with an elderly person all day would have time to keep a perfect house. The problem is, you are not in their shoes. Staying home 24/7 puts no one in the mood to do housecleaning, and knowing that you can't leave even if you wanted to makes it so much worse. If you want to care for a caregiver, hire someone to clean the house or do it for them.

Often we don't think to bring meals unless someone is sick or had surgery. It might be a good option to bring a meal to a caregiver who is home all day with an elderly person or child. Just like with cleaning, being home alone is tiring, and the person might need a break from cooking.

In all of the help you offer, never make the caregiver feel as if they are not doing a good enough job. Tell them how much they are doing, but say you would like to take some of the load. That will go a long way to encourage the caregiver.

Some caregivers are struggling more than they will ever let on. They might come across as upset or annoyed, but the reality is that they are probably just tired. Try to put yourself in their shoes, and if you can't, do put yourself in their shoes, and give them a break.


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