When the caregiver needs care, how can friends and family help? Kimberly Drew offers 8 tangible ways to make a difference in the lives of caregiving families.

What happens when the caregiver needs care? Guest blogger Kimberly Drew asks and answers that question in a post that’s hitting close to home as she and her husband care for two daughters with special needs.

When the Caregiver Needs Care:
How To Admit You Need Tangible Help

Our church family and friends often ask if there is anything that they can do to help us. When I’m doing well physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I usually ask friends to pray for the current physical needs of our girls. For Ellie, that she will eat better, be able to sit up, and for a full brain healing. For Abbey that we can make progress on communication, and for specific deformities on her toes and hands that she’s dealing with right now.

Easy right? Everyone can pray!

Let us storm the gates of heaven with our prayers for these girls. I do believe in the power of unceasing prayer.

But right now, I am suffering with a sciatica problem. I’m struggling physically and am realizing how difficult taking care of things is becoming for me. Please know that for me to ask for help is extremely difficult…and doesn’t feel right. While I would do anything for a friend in need, that doesn’t make it easier to be the friend in need. Most parents of children with special needs don’t want to bother others with their problems because they feel they will be a burden or scare away friends.

So I’ve being thinking of ways to ask for help more specifically. These ideas for when the caregivers need care are somewhat specific to our family. But they are tangible things that can really make a difference, and can be adapted for anyone.

  1. I would love to have a small, personally chosen team of four families who are trained to do everything the girls need in an average day. This requires some planning on my part, reaching out to the circle of people I trust the most, and praying they are willing to be “on call” anytime we need help.
  2. Sometimes I need need help around the house, inside or out. It hurts to bend, twist, push, or lift right now…which makes deep cleaning or weeding a struggle. Caregivers not struggling physically have times when the schedule of doctors and medical things overtakes life, and the house starts to fall apart. Friends and family can offer to clean. Or they can pay someone who is in need of extra money to clean. Let the caregiver know this is an open offer for when they need it. Maybe provide a homemade coupon book to use for the number of cleanings you are offering.
  3. Meals are always welcome. Appointments go haywire, a child has an off day and requires constant attention, or exhaustion finally catches up with a person. Having a frozen meal available on a busy day is such a relief! Don’t wait for caregivers to ask for a meal. Just show up with a frozen one once in a while. Make it simple by doubling easy recipes, or plan regular meals for a family with serious needs.
  4. Point people to medical or therapy equipment that would be helpful. Our family is going on sabbatical this summer, and I can’t take our therapist. So some of the therapy tools we use regularly would be helpful. I’ve started a wish list on Amazon, and you could do the same thing.
  5. Ask for diaper or formula donations. We spend about $120 a month on diapers–not covered through insurance–so I could ask for a pack of diapers. One can of Ellie’s special formula is about $18 and lasts 3.5 days. Not an exciting way to support us, but very helpful!
  6. Give money. Asking for money feels very wrong, so I suggest this with a cringing of my spirit. However, lots of families in situations like ours have financial need. Medical bills are generally in the thousands out of pocket expenses every year. When we had just Abbey, we spent between $5,000 to $10,000 a year out of pocket. Sometimes I skip specialist visits and dental work because the co-pay isn’t in the budget. If you want to give anonymously to a family, contact a mutual friend or church office to arrange it.
  7. Send an encouraging note. I love these and read them over and over. I stick them in books as bookmarks, on mirrors, and by my kitchen sink. Sometimes a kind word can get me through a rough day.
  8. Dream big when asking for help. If I’m dreaming big, a handicapped bathroom addition to our downstairs would be amazing. If we asked, perhaps a friend would open a donation account, and when the funds are there we could start. If your family were dreaming big, what would you ask for? A vacation? Respite care so you could go away with your spouse? A home repair? A service pet for your child? Anything works– it’s your dream!

I adamantly detest asking for help. Even so, these eight tangible ways can help when the caregiver needs care in our family or in a family you know. Such acts of love will not go unnoticed by the families you help wherever you live.

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When the caregiver needs care, how can friends and family help? Kimberly Drew offers 8 tangible ways to make a difference in the lives of caregiving families.