Being a caregiver to a loved one can be rewarding, but it’s also an emotionally draining job. Burnout is a condition that affects both family members and professionals caring for the elderly and people with intellectual disabilities.
There are steps caregivers can take to prevent caregiver burnout, but you can help too. Learn how to support someone who is a caregiver to ease their stress.
Often, the best way you can support a caregiver friend is to let them vent. Caring for another person can bring many emotions to the surface; allowing them to share their frustrations, sadness, and even anger can help them manage their stress.
Don’t offer solutions unless they ask; just listen attentively and show them empathy. Let them feel heard.
Caregivers tend to decline help when friends offer, but be persistent if you see your friend struggling. They will probably turn down any offer the first time, but keep trying. Suggest specific tasks rather than a general “How can I help?”
Coming up with ways to help them will save their mental energy:
- Groceries—Call your friend or family member and offer to run to the store for them. If they seem like they don’t want to put you out, remind them that you’re going there anyway.
- Dishes—You can always stop by their home with pre-cooked food. A pre-made dinner will be a welcome sight after a long day.
- Yard Work—The last thing a caregiver has time for is cutting the grass or shoveling a snowy sidewalk. Offering to help with yardwork removes another burden.
- Break—Volunteer to come by for a few hours to give them some time to themselves, whether that’s to relax or run errands.
To prevent burnout, caregivers might need more than a few hours away. Helping them set up respite care is another important way to support them. Respite care is when a professional takes over care to give the primary caregiver a few days or weeks off.
The most important way to help a caregiver is to look for signs of isolation or a stressed and tired appearance. It’s a demanding job, and they can often feel lonely.
Keeping in touch, whether that’s through texting or visiting, can reinforce that they have people in their lives looking out for them. Understanding how to support someone who is a caregiver can make a big difference in their life!