6 Simple (Yet Meaningful) Ways to Support a Caregiver

Being a caregiver is a challenging, often exhausting task. If a caregiver is working with someone who has long-term needs, this becomes especially true. Assisting with medical care, food preparation, transportation…the list of caregiver responsibilities can go on and on.

Even if they haven’t asked for it, caregivers need our love and support. Opportunities exist, both big and small, to make their experience just a little bit easier. In this article, we share helpful ideas to support the caregivers in your life.

1. Give Them a (Much Needed) Break

As mentioned above, caregiving can be exhausting. Recent research from the AARP shows that 40% of caregivers feel emotionally stressed, and 20% feel physically strained. 

A good place to start helping caregivers is simply giving them time off, time they can spend caring for themselves. Offer to hold down the fort for a day, if you’re able. Or consider asking if you can hire a private nurse for a few hours. Whatever you’re able to do to give them a break will be much appreciated.

2. Show Up for Them

Mother Teresa wisely says, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” So show up for your loved one. Swing by their house for a walk, or pick up the phone and call. However you choose to show up, let them know that you care and are there for them, no matter what. We are stronger when we have support.

Tip: Consider sending them a handwritten card or thoughtful email that they can look back on. If you’re not sure what to write, these inspirational caregiver quotes are a good place to start!

3. Listen

Caregivers may feel like people don’t care about what they’re going through, or at the very least don’t understand. Sometimes your loved one might just need a listening ear to talk through what they’re experiencing.

Focus on listening to them without judgment or interruption. It’s a gesture that might feel small, but ultimately speaks volumes. 

4. Share Information on Support Groups

Without proper support, caregiving can feel lonely and isolating. Fortunately, multiple types of support groups exist – both online or in-person. These groups offer a place for caregivers to share expertise, concerns or experiences in a safe, supportive environment. Help your loved one by connecting them with a group, or offer to join them for a meeting.

Tip: If this sounds like it could be helpful for your loved one, check out our article on caregiver support groups. We share tips on how to choose the right group, plus options for both online and in-person support groups.

5. Help with the Day-to-Day

Managing a person’s care may already be a full-time job for some caregivers. Add day-to-day tasks like cooking and cleaning, and it’s easy to see how one could feel overwhelmed.

You can relieve that burden by offering to help with some of life’s daily needs. Bring over homemade meals or send gift cards to favorite restaurants. Shovel their driveway. Offer to walk their dogs. All these tasks add up when going it alone, but even knocking off just one from the to-do list can provide relief.

6. Offer Financial Support

One in five caregivers experiences significant financial strain as a result of providing care. Caregivers often bear the burden of their loved one’s health care costs, which is why offering financial support can be so very helpful.

There are many ways to provide monetary support, from starting a GoFundMe to offering to help with something specific, like a car payment or rent. Consider asking your loved one where the costs add up the most, so you can be sure your gift is making the most impact.

How Do You Support the Caregivers In Your Life?

Doing any one of these things for your loved one is a thoughtful gesture that truly will make a difference. Now we’d like to hear from you: What ways do you show love and support to the caregivers in your life? Or if you’re a caregiver, what would be most helpful? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments below!

  • D.O.

    Please don’t say “take care of yourself.” Instead, ask if you can order groceries or bring something needed. Come and give the caregiver a few hours off so they actually can “take care of themselves.” Actions are appreciated as well as kind words. And pray for everyone involved.

  • Cheri Frykholm

    Thank you for sharing this piece about caregivers. I am a caregiver and completely understand what was said.

  • Emily O

    Just ask the caregiver “How are YOU”. I care for my 94 year old mom and I can’t tell you how often I am asked “how is your mom” Very very rarely do people ask me “How are you?” That simple gesture means so much.

  • Helen

    What if they refuse all help. Or when I say that I can help, they never communicate with me, how or when. What if they never even talk about their situation, or share.

  • Cheryl Evry

    Please, use whichever method the caregiver asks you to! I am caring for my husband after a stroke, and I maintain a CaringBridge site for him where we post updates Every Single Night. And every night, we beg for comments, just a few words for me to read out loud to him.
    And every night, only two people comment. And when I do ask the others (in emails or over the phone) they say they don’t know what to say.
    Please, people – if the caregiver asks for something, don’t disregard it as trivial. And don’t disregard it because YOU are embarrassed, YOU don’t know what to say. Please, just listen when they talk. If they mention (as I do), that their person has little they can eat from takeout due to medical issues, then sending restaurant cards is not useful.
    And yes, they need respite care. And yes, the patient may reject it. It’s delicate. This will take a time investment. If you can, visit. Then visit again. Once the patient knows how to interact with you, they may accept you for a whole day.
    As a caregiver, there is nothing more terrifying than people who offer to help and then do more harm than good. Every situation is different, people. Come over, listen, learn – and then offer. We may have conditions, we may have things you need to learn. It may not be easy. But we appreciate it more than we can express.
    We love you.

  • Steve E Law

    My wife is 86. I’m a caregiver. I’d just like time to visit my family who live out of town. She has lots of family who are willing to help, but won’t let them in.

  • Bob Bowers

    My wife had an aneurysm in the circle of Willis. Over the next 13 years her health gradually deteriorated until she died of physical deterioration due to arthritis and inoperable spinal deterioration. My role throughout was to be her lover, companion, caregiver while she deteriorated mentally and physically. As long as we could we went on drives to spend a day in a shady park. I made sure when I was out of town that a made a card for each day that the staff could give her. I took her for a daily walk with her wheelchair. I ate some meals with her. I brought the family together on special occasions and involved them in getting her Hospice Care to ease her suffering and pain. I made sure she had colorful, lounging and bed clothing. My oldest daughter and I held her hand when she died. It was 12 years of care, given in love for the woman I loved.

  • Virginia Todd

    Excellent suggestions. Exhaustion can be the caregiver’s enemy. Go to the store —by groceries that the person needs. Stay will the ill one—your presence is comforting, even if you say nothing—pray.