How to Bring Joy to a Caregiver

joy Psst! Do you want to bring a little joy into a caregiver’s life?

“How do I know if I know a caregiver?” you might ask. Good question. A caregiver is someone who bears the responsibility of taking care of someone who can’t take care of him or herself. Family caregivers fall into one or more of the following categories.

Emotional Caregivers

joy caregiverSome caregivers take care of the emotional needs of a parent or spouse who resides in a care facility. In addition to the caregiver’s normal life, he or she may spend time calming down an anxious parent or spouse who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s. This involves a commitment to show up in person or by phone when a crisis arises.

Emotional caregivers often get overlooked because professional caregivers take care of the physical needs of the patient. But helping a loved one stay emotionally healthy can take a toll on someone.

How can you bring joy to someone who cares for another person’s emotional wellbeing? Let the caregiver know that you care. This kind of caregiving can often last long term, and caregivers start to feel isolated and discouraged. Send encouraging cards to them. Share words of affirmation. Pray with them and for them. Listen without giving advice.

Physical Caregivers

Other caregivers must care for the physical needs of a loved one. This may include anything from lifting, bathing, helping with personal grooming, dressing, and feeding. Physical caregivers don’t receive money from anyone for the work that they do. They do it out of love—often at great emotional and financial cost to themselves.

A physical caregiver may have to quit his or her job in order to care for their loved one. They may need to work from home and experience increased isolation. The need for specialized equipment or home modifications may strain a caregiver’s bank account.

You can bring joy to someone who carries the brunt of physical care for another human by offering to run errands. Spend time visiting—either the patient or the caregiver—and bring along some joy (find out ahead of time what that would be. Every person has different definition. Dark chocolate always fills me with joy). Show up. Listen. Withhold the advice unless asked.

Crisis Caregivers

A crisis caregiver takes on the burden of caring for a loved one who has a catastrophic accident or illness. Most people don’t prepare for a crisis that hasn’t taken place yet, so the crisis caregiver will feel as if their world has imploded. The crisis caregiver will most likely have emotional needs, financial needs and informational needs

The overwhelming amount of things that he or she must do in addition to keeping the rest of the family together might cause a crisis caregiver to feel paralyzed. When Pedro received his cancer diagnosis, I had so much to do that at times I didn’t know whose house our kids had spent the night at. Thankfully, kind friends made sure the girls made it to school each day—complete with clean clothes and a sack lunch.

You can bring joy to a crisis caregiver by enlisting help from church members, co-workers or neighbors. Groups of people can pitch in to bring meals, take care of children, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or buy groceries. Don’t forget to check in with the caregiver to make sure no one in the family has dietary restrictions. Once again, listen more than you talk and only give advice when asked. 

All Types of Caregivers Appreciate Affirmation

No matter what type of care a person gives, knowing that they don’t serve in a vacuum can bring joy. Use social media to pass on a Bible verse, a beautiful photo, an encouraging song, or words of affirmation. Just remember to respect the caregiver and loved one’s privacy. Don’t be the one to announce to the world that Susie’s husband has cancer by a careless Facebook post or tweet.

During this season of good tidings and great joy, what will YOU do to come alongside a caregiver?

Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week.

2. Visit TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it! Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Tara Ulrich

    Such an important reminder. Caregiving is a hard calling in life, but is worth it. We just need to remember to care for ourselves too. I’m in the 4 spot this week.

    • Amen! Self-care is so very important!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Anita! Caregivers are so often on the margins of the social circle.

    One suggestion I would add is to offer to care for pets; walking and feeding the dog can be a real blessing. I did this, before I was sick, for a neighbour who was a new mother and whose husband was rarely home. She loved her dog dearly, but the baby was wearing her out, and it took a lot off her mind that someone cared enough to think of her canine pal.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/12/your-dying-spouse-244-patient-fatigue.html

    • That’s an excellent addition, Andrew! I’m always glad that we didn’t have pets during my caregiving journeys–it might have put me over the edge! We had a wonderful dog in between the journeys, though, and our life was richer because Clancy was part of it.

  • I guess I’m in the emotional caregiver category these days, and I had an amazing epiphany this morning while returning home from a drop off. I try to use time alone in the car to pray for family, and as my mind turned toward my mum, I just felt frustrated that she doesn’t take more of an active role in pursuing any kind of happiness or social interaction in the facility where she lives now. But instead of just shutting down after expressing that to the Lord, I told Him what I’d like to see happen in her life and just offered it to Him as a request and at the same time, as a blessing over her life. Nothing very earth shattering there, but I can’t tell you what a difference it made in my ability to pray for her in this season of the year when she stubbornly refuses joy.

    • Wow. That must be so very difficult! Psalm 64 really helps me because it starts off with David asking God to hear his complaint! All too often we think we have to praise first or follow some formula. God is ok with us just laying our complaints out there for him to hear! I’m glad you were able to do this!

  • Anita,

    I believe my mother is an emotional caregiver as she helps my dad in his battle with Alzheimer’s. Like you said.I try to listen to her when she is sharing the events of her day. I also give her words of encouragement reminding her that so many of us are praying for her. Thank you for what you do here. It is such an important need. In January, Me and my caregiver will have been walking this journey for 6 years. I am so thankful that she loves the Lord. I hope you have a fantastic week and blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

    • Thank you, Horace! I often think that caring for someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s would beone of the most difficult journeys ever. May God continue to give your mom strength and YOU the wisdom to be her sounding board! It’s wonderful that you have a good caregiver, too :).