Compassionate Caregiving: The gift of time

As we learn about ideal holiday gifts in this issue, it sparked a thought of what gifts that caregivers need.

Caregivers need the gift of time. This is one of the most generous and supportive things you can offer the caregiver. Consider dedicating an hour per month or an hour per week to plug in and support them.

You probably are asking yourself, “How can I offer my time to support the caregiver? What do they need time to do?”

Here are some thoughts:

• Caregivers need time to visit and share how they are feeling. Caregiving can be a very demanding job. Sometimes, they just need someone to talk to. You can offer your time to be a supportive friend and listener.

• Caregivers need time to attend to their needs. They need to go to the doctor, dentist or eye appointment. Most caregivers drastically minimize these tasks because they don’t have someone to relieve their caregiving responsibilities.

• Caregivers need someone to come into the home and spend time with their loved one and take the lead for an hour or two. This would allow them to go for a walk, go to the grocery store or fix supper.

• Caregivers need time away from caregiving to get away and rest and rejuvenate. Most caregivers need downtime and often aren’t in the position of taking it. They need a break from their demanding routine.

• Caregivers have a overwhelming list of to-dos. You also could offer to bring a meal or snack to their home. You could offer to run errands, pick up something at the grocery store or mow the lawn. The important thing is to use your special gift to help share in their workload.

Joel Osteen said it best: “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, your attention, your love and your concern.”

Give the valuable gift of time to the caregivers you know. This gift is priceless.

Laura Nissen is a dementia specialist for Luther Manor Communities in Dubuque.

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