Ways to Be a True Friend to a Family Caregiver

Caregivers often find that many of their friends drift away over time. Being a caregiver is a stressful, tedious job that takes up a lot of time and often has unconventional hours. Due to this, friends tend to fall by the wayside as a caregiver fully commits him or herself to their job. These friends are not bad people, but they simply do not understand how to help their caregiver friend and they may find it easier to hang out with people who have more time. Plus, caregiver’s often lead complicated lives due to the nature of their job. When they lose friends, sometimes it is because their friends do not want know how to deal with the complexities of a caregiver’s life. Does this sound familiar to you, or do you have a friend who is a caregiver? If so, then you do not have to lose your friend, especially if the two of you are incredibly close. Here are a few ways that you can be a true friend to a family caregiver and keep your friendship strong.

Listen Attentively

Being a caregiver is a stressful job, and because of this, your caregiver friend may need to vent every once in a while. To help them lower their stress levels, listen attentively to them. If you simply brush them off when they want to talk, then you will only add to their stress levels and will not be a good and supportive friend. To listen attentively, engage in conversation with your friend and occasionally respond throughout the conversation to ensure them that you are listening to their concerns. By responding with short comments about your friend’s story you can show them that you truly are listening and truly do care about them. Pretending to listen will not fool them, and if you want to be a true friend, then pretending to listen is never a good idea.

Do not Judge

A true friend should never judge a friend for anything that they do, but you should especially never judge your friend for being a caregiver. Often, caregivers must give up a good paying job to care for someone they love. When this happens, do not bring up money issues or finances to your friend. He or she does not need any negative judgment from you or their family members. You are not in their shoes, and may not know the whole story.

Ask Them What You Can Do To Help

Caregivers may experience things in their daily job that you never even have to think about. Whether they have to care for a dying loved one, or they are dealing with a loved one with a degenerative medical condition, their everyday job is extremely stressful. To be a good friend, you may simply need to ask them what you can do to help them. You are not always expected to know what to do to help them, but if you directly ask them, then you can show them that you care for them and are there whenever they need you.

Offer Your Time

If you know what medical condition your caregiver friend’s loved one has, then offer your time. Research their medical condition and then offer to sit with the care receiver to give your friend some free time. Or, if you are not very good around other people or around medical illnesses, then offer to run errands for your friend or their loved one. You can also offer your time by cooking a meal, cleaning your friend’s house, cleaning the care receiver’s home, or driving the care receiver to their appointments. Just do not offer anything that you are not able to deliver in order to be a good friend.

Give Your Friend Space

Sometimes caregivers only want time for themselves. If they work super unconventional hours and have devoted themselves to being a fantastic caregiver to their loved one, then they probably will need some time along. If your friend appears stressed out and overly tired, then give them some space. They may need some time to recharge and then they will be back to their normal selves. Always take your friend’s personality into account. If your friend is always chipper and gregarious, then they may simply come out and tell you they need some space. But, if your friend is a people-pleaser and does not say no often, then you may have to recognize the tell-tale signs of stress and anxiety yourself. But, either way, be aware of true isolation. If your friend begins to isolate themselves from you, their other friends and their family, then something may be wrong. Step in and offer an ear to them to talk, and try to get to the bottom of why they are isolating themselves.

Do not Exclude Your Friend

One of the best things you can do for a caregiver friend is to not exclude them. Caregivers often have very unconventional hours, and they may not always be able to attend every event or hang out session that you invite them to. Do not get discouraged if your friend turns down a few invites, and do not stop inviting them to places. One day, when your friend has a lot less stressful job and more time, they will appreciate you staying in their life and will be able to be a great friend to you.

Caregivers are compassionate, nurturing people who often find themselves in the role of a caregiver suddenly. Often, family members become sick and need a caregiver immediately. When this occurs, certain family members must step up and become primary caregivers to family members. If this happens to your friends, then you may need to work a little bit harder to keep your friendship alive. Caregivers often lose friends while they are working. Their hours are not always that great and they tend to be overly stressed or fatigued often. For these reasons, many friends stop calling them and simply stop coming around. But, if your friend is a caregiver, then you do not have to lose your friendship. Try these tips to keep your friendship alive, and you two are certain to stay friends for a really long time.

For more information on being a family caregivers, please check these articles in our home care blog: