Saturday, August 02, 2008

what can friends do to help someone who is a caregiver (Pt 1)

Caregivingly Yours is often surprising interactive. Recently I received a most kind email including a question about what can friends do to help someone who is a caregiver. 

I cannot speak for other caregivers but in our story most friendships have faded over the years as my life as a spouse caregiver become so different than anyone else.

Now don’t go getting Lifetime Channel on me and claim ‘real’ friendships last forever. Traditionally friendship is a two-way street. Caregiving consumes ALL available time. Friendship is a challenge.

Since I certainly have no personal formula for success, I Googled the question and found a collection of 7 tips from Ohio State University, Care for the Caregiver.

With due respect to the Buckeyes I will borrow their tips as a framework and insert my experiences and thoughts.

#1 "Ask how the caregiver is doing? How are they coping? Be sincere in your efforts and be willing to listen to their response."

“How are YOU doing?” or “How are YOU feeling?” still is such a rare question that it often throws me, though always in a feel good way. This is a great tip.

As for coping, I would say NEVER ask. That cannot come across well, “Hey dude! How are you coping?”

As for being sincere and listening, this would be a treat to any caregiver. Please LISTEN do not just hear. PLEASE no condescending hyperbole.

Ask questions. Learning makes you easier to talk "with". 

#2 "Be understanding and compassionate. Don't try to give advice or fix their lives. You are a friend."

NEVER try to give advice! Even caregiver to caregiver you will not find advice being ‘offered’ unless asked for.

As for fixing any caregiver’s life, <grin> if a superhuman caregiver and God cannot do it where did you come up with the answer? Bite your tongue. Shhhh!

Even though caregiving is exhausting, the loneliness can be incomprehensible.  Understanding, compassionate friendship would be appreciated beyond your imagination.

(Oops! I’m approaching my 350 word cap on entries … to be continued)

Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer

(also available in Blogger edition, Caregiver Blog: "Caregivingly Yours")


  1. so, Patrick, how are YOU doing??

    I'm sure I've broken both of these tips by commenting in your journal; and if I did, I'm so sorry;

    I look forward to the other 5 tips; it really is okay every once in awhile to go over 350 words :) as I get paid by the line and words make up lines; I like those verbose dictators :)


  2. Thank you Betty, I am doing just peachy keen! This could teach me about suggesting to "ask" <grin>

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  3.  I was going to say the same thing as Betty but we both mean it.  I hope you are doing well.


  4. (((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU))))))))))))))))))))))You always have something intresting to say.

  5. Hi Patrick,  I'm blaming alerts for not getting here sooner.  I wonder, did OSU have any "in the trenches" caregivers advise or edit them?  lol
    I have to totally agree with your observations and amendments to these tips-so far.  Now I'm off to read the rest.
                                                                                           :)  Leigh


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