Caregivers Need You
Wednesday October 26, 2022
Recently, in a support group, I posted the question: What do you want other people to know about you and your loved one?
There was silence for a few moments. Then, as everyone started to share their thoughts, there was a common message:
We are still here!
The overwhelming response was that caregivers often feel forgotten. Friends drop off. Few people call to check in or come visit. I don’t know who first said it, but I have heard many times: “Dementia is not a chicken casserole illness.”
When someone gets sick, friends and family bring casseroles by and check-in. Not so much with dementia. People don’t bring the casseroles. Cards are not sent. Phone calls don’t happen.
Here are what some of the people in our group wanted everyone to know. This is good, simple advice.
“His disease is not contagious. It is ok to call. You don’t have to know what to say. Just reach out. It keeps me from feeling like an island.”
“It is okay to visit. Ask me about my loved one. Talk to me. Don’t leave me isolated.”
“Be patient with the individual and the caregiver.”
“You know I am dealing with a lot. Just reach out – even a simple text. My phone has gone silent, and the silence is deafening.”
“I need to talk. You don’t have to solve the problems. Just listen to me.”
“If you want to help me, and you don’t know what to do – just ask me.”
- Call to check-in. Be patient if you don’t hear back right away. Try again.
- Text an encouraging message. Don’t expect a response.
- Ask if you can stop by for a visit to sit, talk, and listen.
- Ask for specific ways you can help. And then help in that way.
- Do not give unsolicited advice, and do not feel like you need to have answers or say the “right thing.” You will not solve their problems. Leave that to the professionals! Your presence is needed more than your problem-solving.