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How to Care for a Caregiver

Next Avenue's caregiving expert on how to ensure the well-being of those who dedicate themselves to the well-being of others

By Jason Resendez

Caring for someone we love is an act of immense compassion, but it can often leave caregivers feeling depleted and overwhelmed. It's also hard to know what to do in these situations as a friend, neighbor, or even family member.

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So, how do we turn the tables and ensure the well-being of those who dedicate themselves to the well-being of others? Here are a few strategies to help care for the caregiver.

1. Jump in and help with small things

Task Delegation: Take initiative! Whether it's grocery shopping, cooking a meal or running errands, take something off their plate.

Childcare Support: Offer to watch the kids for a few hours, giving them precious alone time or a chance to catch up on sleep.

Chores and Errands: Don't wait to be asked. Mow the lawn, do the dishes, or fold the laundry - small gestures can make a big difference.

2. Lend an ear, without judgement

● Dedicated Listening: Create a safe space for them to vent, express anxieties or simply share their experiences. Give them your full attention, without interrupting or offering unsolicited advice.

● Empathy: Acknowledge their feelings, even if you can't fully understand their situation. A simple "That must be really difficult" can go a long way.

● Celebrate the Wins: Big or small, share their joys and achievements. Celebrating their successes reminds them of the positive impact they're making and of the essential nature of their role.


3. Knowledge is power

● Resource Navigation: Research and share helpful resources, such as support groups, online forums, or financial assistance programs for caregivers. Resources for caregivers abound, starting with your local Area Agency on Aging or state AARP chapter.

● Finding Professional Help: If needed, encourage them to seek professional help from therapists or counselors who specialize in supporting caregivers.

Remember, caring for the caregiver is not about one-time gestures, but about building a support system that fosters their long-term well-being. By offering practical help, emotional support and unwavering encouragement, we can show them the same compassion and dedication they show to those they provide care for.

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Jason Resendez is the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, where he leads research, policy, and innovation initiatives to build health, wealth, and equity for America’s 53 million family caregivers. Jason is a nationally recognized expert on family care, aging and the science of inclusion in research. In 2020 he was named one of Next Avenue's Influencers in Aging. Read More
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