If you've got a friend who's acting as a full-time caregiver, it can be tough to know what you can do to make this person's life easier. Since November is National Caregivers' Month, here are a few tips on providing support and help for caregivers, whether they're looking out for an elderly parent or a disabled family member.
Bring over a meal
The caregiver in your life is so focused on preparing meals for their friend or family member that they don't have much extra time to commit to making healthy food for themselves. Next time you make dinner or lunch, add an extra portion and bring it over to them. You may even consider making enough for them to freeze and eat later.
Treat them to a massage or a manicure
It's probably been quite a while since this person took the time to pamper themselves. Grab them a gift certificate for a massage or manicure, and then offer to provide care for their family member while they go enjoy themselves. If they wouldn't particularly enjoy those services, you can offer to relieve them for a few hours so they can take a nap, read, or watch their favorite TV show.
Offer to babysit their children
If your friend is caring for an aging parent and young kids at the same time, responsibilities can feel overwhelming. Take something off of her plate by offering to drive her children to soccer practice or dance class, or just watch them for a few hours after school.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for a friend is to let them vent without judgment. Let them know that they have your moral support and that you'll listen whenever they need you.
A full-time caregiver may frequently have to decline social invitations. While the rest of your group is out at Happy Hour or attending Book Club, they're at home. But just because their schedule may not be as flexible, make it a point to keep them included with the rest of the group. Invite them as plans come up, while also letting them know that you understand that they may have to decline the invitations for other obligations.
Lauren Levine is a freelance writer who has contributed to publications and websites including The Charlotte Observer, U.S. News & World Report, American Way magazine, The Huffington Post, Hello Giggles, Bustle, Thrillist, Thought Catalog, and others.