If you know someone who is caring for a family member, you might want to offer some help...

Being a family carer for a loved one with a health condition can be a highly demanding role. Although it is also a rewarding one as you are helping someone that you love.

If you have a family member, or a friend who is caring for a loved one then you might like to offer some help now and then. Here are some ways that you can really help a carer…

Plan any visits beforehand

If you are a regular visitor of the person being cared for, then if you don’t already, phone or text a visit arrangement in advance. It means that they can be ready for you. If the person being supported is living with dementia, then days can be very different and knowing that a visit is going to happen enables the carer to prepare themselves and their loved one.

With any health condition however, there are going to be good days and bad days so try not to be put off if your visit is cancelled last minute. It may not be a good day but perhaps you can ask about it and offer some help and moral support.

Research what it is they are dealing with

If you don’t know much about the health condition that your friends or relatives are coping with, then do some research. Asking the family carer can be a good way to help them to talk about things. But ensure you do some research of your own as the carer has much to do and may get frustrated at feeling the need to train you about it too.

There are plenty of online resources to help you to understand the basics of any health condition or disease. Bear in mind however that every person is different.

Offer to help in practical ways

Ask the primary carer what you can do to help before you arrive and while you are there. You may be able to help by:

  • Getting some shopping
  • Making a cup of tea or coffee
  • Take over some home baking or a meal
  • Offer to look after the person so the carer can go out
  • Doing some housework

They might seem like little things but can make a world of difference to their day or week.

Organising some time out

Helping out can include coming up with ideas for things you can all do together and arranging it. As a carer, there’s a lot to think about and mainly day to day tasks, so having someone think about doing more fun things can be a very valuable contribution.

Take a gift

When you have arranged a visit, you might like to treat the family carer to a small gift now and then. It doesn’t have to cost much. Perhaps something home baked, or a card saying that they are great! It’s nice to let them know that what they are doing is appreciated.

Be supportive

Let the family carer know that you are there to listen, help and be there when you are needed. Many carers do not accept help until they reach a crisis point. It’s important to reassure them that accepting help is not a failure.

If you are a family carer, it would be really helpful if you can let us know what has helped for you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.