“Support for Caregivers,” Counseling Resources (2018).
“Support for Caregivers,” Counseling Resources.
A caregiver is a person who provides regular care for someone who is unable to meet some or all of their own needs. Often the person receiving care is a family member living with a physical or mental disability, chronic illness, or effects of old age. The time commitment required to care for such individuals may range from a few hours a week to 24-hour care.
Caregivers are often required to balance work, church, and other family responsibilities while at the same time attempting to provide individual care to a loved one. While providing care is often a very rewarding and enriching experience, the demands of continual care can also cause worry, exhaustion, financial stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Caregivers may have needs that are not visible to others, and they may also be reluctant to ask for help. Caregivers may have a higher risk of stress-related depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or physical health issues. They may also experience grief, resentment, or anger over the loss of their hopes and expectations. Their day-to-day lifestyle, freedom to do things they want, and goals for the future may all be different from what they once expected.
As you talk with caregivers, make sure to show love and empathy as the Savior would. Because every situation is different and each person’s circumstances vary, prayerfully consider asking questions like these in a kind and loving manner to help you better understand the caregiver’s circumstances and discern his or her needs.
What is the current situation, and what are your responsibilities?
What are the most difficult aspects about what you are going through?
How has being a caregiver affected your family (health, financial concerns, roles, responsibilities, and so on)?
What challenges are you experiencing in your relationship with the care receiver?
Is your situation likely to improve, continue the same, or worsen over time?
What type of caregiving assistance are you currently receiving (from other family members, ministering brothers and sisters, community resources, or healthcare providers)?
What tasks and responsibilities are you and other family members unable to complete, either because of a lack of time or ability?
What are you doing to take care of yourself (nutrition, sleep, exercise, routine medical care)?
What else would you like to share with me about your situation?
As you help the member with his or her situation, consider using some of the following suggestions.
Determine how to help the caregiver stay connected to other ward members and worship services.
If the caregiver and care receiver feel like they are a burden to the ward, help them understand they are valued and that many ward members are glad to serve them.
Ensure that the sacrament is provided in the home, if needed.
Determine if the caregiver needs assistance to attend Church, the temple, or other activities.
Share with the caregiver how his or her example and experiences are helping other ward members.
Consider giving the caregiver appropriate opportunities to serve without adding to their burden.
Visit with the caregiver and receiver and express your love and concern for all involved.
Plan visits in the home to better understand the situation.
Give encouragement and help the caregiver understand that he or she is not alone.
Help arrange for priesthood blessings when requested or inspired to do so.
Discuss what the caregiver’s plans are for adjusting to caregiving or what to do if the situation worsens, and how the ward might help.
Identify existing resources that the caregiver can turn to for help
Make a list of talents, skills, and resources of family members and friends who could provide needed assistance and make a plan to use these resources.
Help the caregiver identify opportunities for personal time. Consider spiritual and personal needs as well as recreational opportunities.
Identify additional needed resources, such as:
Assistance and support from other family members
Physical and mental well-being support
Accessibility and assistive technology or equipment
If there are other family members in the home, they may need to assist the caregiver. Determine the effect this has on the caregiver and the care receiver, as well on as the spouse, children, or other family members, and address those issues.
Help children understand shifting roles and needs in the home.
Children and teenagers may find that they have much more responsibility if a parent or sibling is a caregiver or care receiver (for example, responsibilities for home, yard, or vehicle maintenance).
Parents who are caregivers or who are receiving care may be unable to spend as much time with their children as they would like.
Involve children in activities with other ward families.
Invite families in the ward to visit the home, and encourage them to participate in the family’s activities, such as home evening.
The person receiving care may feel like a burden to the caregivers and may even have difficulty finding meaning if his or her abilities are severely limited. Consider ways to help the individual find purpose and fulfillment.
Depending on the circumstance, help him or her identify and engage in meaningful activities (such as service, recreation, family togetherness, personal projects and hobbies, and so forth).
Consider opportunities to serve in the Church from home, such as through FamilySearch Indexing or other online opportunities.
Ward leaders or other trusted individuals can provide continuing support, guidance, and assistance. Request the caregiver’s permission before discussing the situation with others.
Leaders may consider discussing the situation in ward council to determine how the ward can support the caregiver and the person receiving care.
The bishop may invite the Relief Society presidency to work with the caregiver to further assess the situation and determine how to address needs.
The elders quorum president and Relief Society president should consider assigning committed ministering brothers and sisters to the family.
Help the caregiver identify a trusted person who can be a constant support for her or him. This may be a ministering brother or sister, or another member of the ward.
Find ways for ward members to provide assistance.
Identify members who can visit in the home to ease loneliness.
Involve the youth or others in service projects to help the family.
Identify ways ward members can regularly provide respite by helping the care receiver while the caregiver attends a support group, takes care of spiritual or personal needs, or obtains other respite help.
Identify local organizations and resources and encourage the caregiver to use them. Resources may include:
Local and national support groups for caregivers (in person or online)
Government and private organizations
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)