When a friend’s spouse experiences a stroke or other significant health incident, the inclination is to support the patient. Particularly as time passes, it’s easy (and natural) to focus on how the patient is recovering and forget that your friend has an on-going, and oftentimes full-time role in their spouse’s recovery.
The fact is that caregivers frequently get forgotten; and at times, their role is more challenging than the patient’s. In addition to being the ones ultimately responsible for their spouse’s well-being 24 hours per day, seven days per week, the caregiver may feel guilty taking time off for themselves. They also may not have friends who can relate to what they are going through and find it difficult to maintain a social life. Additionally, patients often take out their frustrations on the caregiver (the person closest to them), which can make the caregiver’s job that much more difficult.
If you have a caregiver friend in your life and aren’t sure how to support them, consider doing one of the following activities, which we have found helpful in supporting the caregiver:
- On a calendar, mark down a day every couple of weeks to check in with your caregiver friend and ask them to lunch, or to take a walk.
- Set up a rotation schedule with friends to bring food to the caregiver and patient family so they don’t have to cook.
- Give them a gift certificate for a massage or facial.
- Offer to spend time with the patient so your friend can take a few hours to herself or himself. Caregiver respites are always appreciated!
- Invite the caregiver on a weekend getaway, or on an outing such as a day of golf.
- Be a listener. Sometimes the caregiver just wants to vent to someone without judgment.
- These simple acts will not take much energy on your part and can provide a great deal of relief to the caregiver.
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