5 Ways You Can Actually Help Your Family Caregiver Friend - 24|7 Nursing Care

5 Ways You Can Actually Help Your Family Caregiver Friend

When a close friend becomes a family caregiver for someone who needs assistance in his or her life, you may notice some changes in your friendship. Due to the responsibilities of caregiving, your friend may seem distant or often decline invitations to participate in activities. This change in lifestyle may be hard on a friendship, but it’s important to not take these changes personally.

You may feel as though you’d like to reach out and see if there are ways that you can help a friend throughout their caregiving journey. There are some things that you can do that may actually help as he or she goes through the difficult motions and emotions of becoming a family caregiver, and it doesn’t always just involve bringing a casserole over for dinner.

Here are five ways that you can help your family caregiver friend.

1. Offer Hands-On Help

Ask your friend if you can offer some extra help around the house with tasks that may be simple, but require an extra effort on the part of a caregiver as they have so much on their mind each day. It could be as simple as washing dishes or folding laundry, but it will mean a lot to someone who is worried about the health and well being of a sick loved one. Keep in mind that offering this type of help will require you to be flexible, as the tasks could range from house-cleaning to yard work depending on what is most helpful to your caregiving friend.

2. Don’t Make More Work for Them

It might be tempting if you want to help get your friend out of a “funk” to offer to have the old gang over or to unexpectedly show up to sit with them for a while. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these types of activities may make the caregiver feel as though he or she needs to entertain, and may be perceived as extra work around the house for someone who is already heavily burdened.

If you want to show your support for your friend by providing a way for them to enjoy some “friend time,” ask him or her when it is most convenient to visit. Bring paper plates and cutlery if you bring food in order to eliminate extra chores later. The main idea is to not create more work for someone who may be overloaded with caregiving duties.

3. Listen more, Talk Less

Though it may be tempting to offer tips and advice to your friend, consider just listening if they need to vent or want to talk about issues related to caregiving. Oftentimes, it can be perceived as a criticism to their caregiving style if you spend time trying to help with unsolicited advice, when it might be most helpful to simply listen to some of the frustrations your friend may have. If your advice is needed or wanted, your friend may ask a direct question related to an issue.

4. The Best Gift is Time

Caregivers often struggle with the ability to spend time doing things for themselves when their whole life is dedicated to caring for someone else. The best offer you can make for your friend is to give them time for themselves. This may mean offering to sit at home for an hour while they run errands or attend a yoga class, or maybe even invite them to lunch if they have some extra help for their loved one. Offering to provide a moment when they can be themselves is one of the greatest gifts you can provide.

5. Remember Empathy

It’s easy for caregivers to have pre-packaged responses to the standard question of “how are you?” Usually, these responses are short and don’t offer any real information about what is going on at home. As a friend, it may be helpful to ask slightly more involved questions about the real mental state of your friend and work to get past the canned responses they are so used to giving. Be respectful if your friend does not want to elaborate on the situation at home, but also offer an ear if it is needed. Friendship is about understanding and empathy between human beings, and in this time of your friend’s life, one of the best ways you can help is by showing that you care.

If your friend is new to caregiving, it may seem like a daunting task to figure out where to start if you want to offer assistance. Oftentimes, people have good intentions to help but wind up offering unhelpful assistance that the caregiver feels obligated to accept. It’s always most helpful for prospective helpers to inquire sensitively about how they can be most helpful to a new family caregiver. Honesty and communication can help make the caregiving process easier for everyone involved.

In the event that you or someone you know needs assistance with in-home caregiving or companion services, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care to find out more about how we can help you. Our trained and professional staff is available for short or long-term care in the comfort of your own home.


Bursack, C. B. (2014, April 24). 10 Ways to Be a True Friend to a Family Caregiver. Retrieved from https://www.agingcare.com/articles/be-a-true-friend-to-a-family-caregiver-167934.htm

Jacobs, B. J. (2017, September 06). How to Really Help a Family Caregiver. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-2017/comforting-busy-caregivers-fd.html