Being a caregiver can be an overwhelming, humbling and rewarding journey. Making you feel isolated and alone at times. But whether you are a caregiver for an ill child, a spouse or an aging parent, you do not have to be the hero. You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, it is more than okay to ask for help. And when you do, you might be surprised to learn that people have wanted to help you all along, they just didn’t know where to begin. So, in honor of National Family Caregivers Month, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re building a caregiving support system.


It starts with family.

Family members are likely to be your most trusted members of a caregiving team. When a family shares the responsibilities of caring for a loved one, the job not only seems less daunting, but is much more manageable. Even if you’re the main caregiver, knowing you’re not in it alone is comforting and good for your own mental health. It doesn’t matter how small the tasks are for other family members. Every little bit of support and assistance helps.


Non-family members have an important role.

You never know who might be paying attention when you’re not looking. People like neighbors and postal carriers can be valuable help for you. These people probably have a good idea of the daily activities of your loved one and are able to raise the red flag when something seems off. You cannot underestimate this group of people when you’re caring for someone who may not be living under your roof. And if you make yourself known to them, you might find out that they’ve already been a support system for you without your even asking!


Be careful not to overwhelm helpers.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to caregiving. If you’re a caregiver, you know this firsthand. The same goes for those you might be looking to for help. Sometimes even those with the best intentions of helping are paralyzed by fear if they’re feeling like there’s too much to do and they can’t possibly do it all, so they do nothing. Start with small things – a phone call to check in on your loved one, a ride to an appointment, a trip to the grocery store. Remember, if you’re the caregiver building the team, you are the facilitator and having many people doing small things can work just as well as a handful of people trying to take it all on.


In the end, the more help you have, the less likely you are to become burned out – physically and emotionally. If that happens, you won’t be doing anyone any good – including yourself. Having a caregiving team in place can also help keep you and your loved one socially engaged with others and you’ll avoid the feelings of isolation that can be the result of solo caregiving. Asking for help from others also gives them an opportunity to express their love – when you do it all, you’re not giving them the chance to experience the many rewards of caring for someone in need.


If you’d like to learn more about building a caregiving team, please contact us!

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