Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Call if you need anything…

I wonder how many caretakers have heard those words. And, to be honest, in the past I’ve said them myself – not thinking that asking them to call me was not how it should work. Of course we (the caretakers) need things, but unless it’s a BIG thing, we’ll handle it ourselves.

Here are a few ideas for people who want to help but don’t know how. Don’t wait for us to call you. If it’s winter and your drive/sidewalk needs shoveling – go shovel ours. If it’s summer and your lawn needs to be mowed – go mow ours. If you’re headed to the store, call and ask if we need bread, milk, eggs, or even toilet paper. If it’s one or two items, just give it to us. If we need a shopping trip, volunteer to sit with the patient or if that’s not your thing, ask for the list and a signed check. We don’t expect people to pick up the tab for a major “we’re out of everything” shopping trip, but if you can afford an extra carton of milk or something, just give it to us. We’ll figure out a way to repay your generosity later (even if it’s sharing it with someone else).

If the caretaker also works full-time, there’s always something around the house that needs to be taken care of. Even though I do something every night before I go to bed, there’s still laundry to do, a bathroom to be cleaned, dishes to put in or take out of the dishwasher, floors to be swept and/or mopped, etc. Sometimes we would like an evening with our feet up. It’s been months since I’ve read a book because there’s never enough time to do all that I feel I should be doing and still have leisure time. I spend some time on the computer every night reading email and chatting for a while with friends, but I’m usually doing laundry, giving a bath, or doing the kitchen at the same time. If I’m watching TV, I’m folding laundry or I’m already in bed for the night. Sitting and just doing nothing is never an option and I’m sure it’s the same for most caretakers.

Call and say you’re on your way over to visit. Bring some snacks and fix the tea or ice water when you arrive. Wait on the caretaker, even though it’s his/her house. Grab a broom or the sweeper and take on a chore.

If you wait for us to call you before any of these things take place, it won’t happen. Then when we are overwhelmed you’ll wonder why no one called on you. We don’t ask. That’s why “we” are the caretakers!

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