One recent thread on a Facebook group for dementia caregivers discussed the topic of how to respond to people who say “I wish I could help.” Most have good intentions, but no concrete offers of help. Others are just making polite conversation and really have no intention of helping. One tongue in cheek caregiver response was, “I’m going to start a list to hand them.”
We all laughed.
One longtime caregiver’s contribution to the post was, “I think we should all make our own list to have ready whenever we hear that offer.” Before long, we had created a rather long list. Some of our responses were a bit of a tease, like the caregiver who said, “If you want to bring me a gift, bring Kleenex! My loved one goes through two boxes a day!” We all laughed because an obsession with Kleenex and toilet paper seems to be prevalent in the world of memory loss.
Let me share a few more of the ideas culled from our group effort:
- Instead of “let me know if you need anything,” please just show up on my front porch with a good cup of coffee.
- Another caregiver added her twist on the impromptu coffee date idea: “Yes, show up on my front porch with a cup of your favorite coffee. Then sit down with my loved one and tell me to get lost for awhile while you drink your cup of coffee.”
- Talk to me. Listen to me. I don’t really have someone I can carry on a conversation with anymore.
- If you see a need that you can meet, just do it. It will make my day.
- One woman’s husband asks her each morning, “What can I do for you TODAY that will make your life easier?”
- Send me a card once in awhile (I have a special friend who does this every single week).
- Share with me one of your special memories of my loved one. In doing so, you will help me focus on the good and remind me that their life mattered.
- Tell me that what I’m doing matters.
One item on the list was my favorite: Ask God to show you how you can help. I promise, He will.