Caring for the caregivers

It is hard to recognize how draining it is to be the main caregiver for a critically sick person. My wife and I have been taking turns at the hospital 24/7 for the past week. As my mother says, "you do what you need to do", but it still takes energy (and sleep).

I'm not looking for sympathy. There are patients in much worse shape and caregivers who go on like this for months or even years. I do now have a better understanding of their dedication and commitments. Toward that end, I can offer a few points of advice.

1) Go and visit the caregivers. The patients are the focus of attention, we want them to recover. All the resources of the caregivers and the hospital are dedicated to making that person better. The caregivers need your support. They are grudgingly tolerated by the hospital. Talk to the caregivers, spending just 30 minutes having coffee and chatting about the community or the latest sports game provides much needed relief.

2) Help the patients family out at home. Our community is wonderful. They have donated their time and efforts to provide daily meals, laundry service, car pooling and shopping services. All of these things leave the caregivers less guilty about leaving the home for extended periods of time. They simply reduce the number of things that need to be managed.

3) Offer prayers and support for the patient and tell the caregivers about it. We were total floored by the outpouring of prayers and support from our community, family and just about everyone who has even a slight connection with our son. It is very helpful to know that you are not alone in caring about the patients health. Besides, prayers can work miracles.

4) Be patient with the caregivers. As I began this post, being full time caregiver is draining. You dedicate your patience and care to the patient and sometimes, that means that there is less for your friends or family. Help the caregivers by accepting their altered state and cutting them some slack.

I have been told by many people that they have started reading my blog. Feel free to comments and post your suggestions!

With thanks to God and the donor,
Elliot

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