Last night on Real Housewives of Atlanta, Nene Leaks shared her struggles being a caregiver to her Husband Gregg who is battling Stage III Colon Cancer. I applaud Nene and Gregg for sharing their story. Many caregivers, especially caregivers of color, can feel alone, and their stories are not told. Nene expresses feelings very common for people providing care to loved ones facing a serious or chronic medical condition. Life as a caregiver can feel like being in a pressure cooker on high that doesn’t turn off.
The multiple stressors and demands of caregiver can be overwhelming on top of the feelings you may experience watching your loved one battle for their lives. Many caregivers start experiencing their own medical problems, face strain in their personal and work life when support is not provided.
Often people may not know how they can support a friend who is a caregiver. Many people not knowing who to do or say, may stay away, which can lead to increased feelings of isolation many caregivers already face.
Here are three tips to remember to do to help support a friend in your life who’s a caregiver.
1. Remember to ask your friend how they are doing instead of how he/she is doing. Your friend in is this with their partner. Asking “How are both of you “acknowledges it’s not just the person who needs care who may be dealing with challenges.
2. Try to avoid saying “Please take care of yourself”. For many caregivers when they hear that it’s just another thing to add to an already very long do to list. Try to offer concrete support. You can offer do some errands like picking up the laundry or picking up the kids from basketball practice.
3. Support may look like offering to pick up dinner and a bottle of wine for a girl’s night in. Your friend many not be able to hang out or go out to dinner because of their caregiving responsibilities. An offer like this will help your friend have an outlet and one less meal to cook.