How can we “caregive” for the caregiver?

As the baby boomers get older and their parents get even older the generation that had it all is now looking after it all!  Often still parenting they are now faced with caregiving aging parents; making financial, medical, household and a myriad of other decisions while dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions concerning their changing relationship and managing a glimpse or two of their own mortality – an exhausting bittersweet time of life.

I recently was quoted in a MORE magazine article (October 2012) on the topic of how the spouse/partner/ or others can be helpful to a caregiver and there are one or two key pieces that I’d like to share from my own perspective and experiences.

Caregiver stress can affect a person physically and emotionally.  Stress/overload will often show up in a persons thinking and behaviour (they may be not wanting to do things they used to enjoy, be irritable, be worrying excessively, have poor sleep and/or eating habits etc.).  A partner, friend or professional support person can often observe symptoms of overload before the caregiver is able to recognize what is happening.

Some tips;

Be supportive in chores/tasks and perhaps encourage outside support/resources to fill the gaps

Help with decision making, have the “clearer head” when needed

Encourage healthy coping strategies; taking time for self, exercise, diet, self care, enjoyable activities, laughter

Support outlet for emotions; let the caregiver have a cry, encourage joining a support group or seeking professional help if needed

Give frequent hugs, gestures of caring, “you are doing a great job”

Realize this is putting stress on you and your relationship as well

For more information or to book a counselling session contact me, Barb Larkin at 604-785-4359, or email