5 Wise Ways You Can Care for a Caregiver
by Marti Pieper
My husband’s early-onset dementia went undiagnosed for years. For that reason, I don’t know just when I became a caregiver. But even my husband, who doesn’t understand the depth of his disease, knows he needs my assistance.
I had many years of mentoring in this role. My mother unselfishly cared for my father during his three-plus years with metastasizing oral cancer. But his many years with type 2 diabetes meant she had long been his caregiver. Without her help as chief dietician and practical nurse, he would never have lived as long as he did.
Whether via dementia, cancer, chronic illness or a more temporary reason, many people find themselves in caregiving roles. Here are five wise ways you can care for a caregiver you know:
- Pray consistently. I have a prayer team to support us through our journey. I consider them my best and strongest partners.
- Listen well. Some caregivers need to share details of their partner’s condition. Others need to talk about anything except that. Ask questions that allow for honest answers (What good/difficult thing happened this week? How are you feeling today?). Listen without offering either judgment or unrequested advice.
- Maintain the relationship. In any trial, people discover their true friends. Keep reaching out to the caregiver in your life—with or without a response.
- Offer practical help. The specifics will vary greatly depending on both sides of the relationship. Consider a gift card, an hour or two of sitting with the partner so the caregiver can disappear or other creative options.
- Encourage. My husband, a pastor, used to tell our church members, “No one ever died from over-encouragement.” Its only cost? Time. Its blessings? Immeasurable.
A caregiving journey, regardless of length, holds many challenges. As you offer support in one or more of these ways, you will help bear the caregiver’s burdens—and thus fulfill the law of Christ.
Marti Pieper is an award-winning author who also hosts several podcasts on the Charisma Podcast Network. Find her at martipieper.com, where her “Snapshots of Dementia” blog details life with her husband, and watch for her #PrayerKeeper posts on Facebook and other platforms.