How to Take Care of a Caregiver

By Beverly Blair Harzog

Got a friend who’s looking after an aging parent? According to the National Family Caregivers Association, more than 50 million people help tend to the needs of a chronically ill or elderly family member. Offering your pal a little caretaking of her own might be just what she needs (plus, studies show helping others not only helps you feel good, it boosts your immune system too). To help:
Create a care package. Get a cheery-looking tote bag, and fill it with a bottle of water, hand lotion, and lip balm to combat dry sick-room air; sunflower seeds, fruit, and granola bars to keep her energy up; and a juicy novel, magazine, and eye mask for when she can sneak a little break.
Give a casserole coupon. Write down a list of casseroles you can make for her, and tell her to pick one on a day when she really needs it. People tend to drop off food when a family crisis hits, but sometimes a caregiver needs it the most after the dust settles.
Offer carpool and errand services. If you’re headed to the supermarket, give your friend a call and ask if she needs some milk or dog food. Or volunteer for a week’s worth of drop-off and pick-up duties for her kids’ after-school activities.