We usually think that the patient is the person who needs help, and they do- but we should also keep in mind that their caregiver needs help once in a while, too. The process of caring for adults with learning disabilities can be draining on many levels, but most caregivers wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s why it’s so important for family and friends to pitch in wherever possible; here are some ideas that will show relatives how to care for the caregiver.
Offer to Help….
In most cases, a family caregiver has to feel that it’s safe and appropriate for someone else to step in and help. If the patient is terminally ill, consider bringing in help from Hospice, which has been helping people die with dignity and in comfort for decades. Encourage your family member to reach out to Hospice and related organizations, as their workers are trained to help care for the sick and dying- and they completely understand the reservations and feelings that caregivers have.
Set up a Caregiving Team
Having a team of relatives and friends in place will help the autism caregiver focus on their loved one without worrying about the countless other things that need to be done. If there are more people to help with errands, cleaning, cooking, transportation and laundry, no one person is stuck doing it all.
Help Them Relax a Little
Friends and family can offer respite care, where the primary caregiver can take time away to have a dinner date, go to a movie, go shopping, or just relax. Helping a caregiver is so much more than helping out with physical chores; it’s about helping them take a break, too. Some caregivers have a hard time “letting go” enough to have fun, but without an occasional break, it can be harder for them to adjust to life in the event of their loved one’s passing.
Be Their Friend
Sometimes, all a caregiver needs is a willing ear. Having someone around who’s willing to listen to what they’re going through is essential to a caregiver’s well-being; if you’re that person, you should encourage them to freely share their feelings and thoughts (and cry, if necessary). Show them you care by sending flowers, or just being there.
When a family member or friend is a caregiver, your first instinct is probably to say “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”. That’s a very nice gesture, but many caregivers have a hard time taking others up on those offers because they aren’t specific enough. If you really want to help, offer to sit with the patient for an afternoon, do some cleaning, or run some errands. Being a caregiver can be overwhelming, and they shouldn’t have to go it alone. With the tips given here, family and friends will know how to help.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Voyage who provide help, care and support for adults with learning disabilities and autism. Please visit their site for more info. Photo: andjohan