A Caregiver’s Guide: Learning When to Help
- by Paul L.
- February 18, 2019
Paul L. is a paid Advocate for Teva Neuroscience, Inc.
Caregiving can be hard work, and one of the most difficult decisions I faced as a new caregiver was figuring out what I needed to do for my wife, who has relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Knowing when to step in and help has been a challenge in my caregiving journey.
A key to being a caregiver is finding balance. I think the balance comes when you determine what they can still do and what they need help with, and making sure to ask others for help when needed.
My experience has taught me some caregiving principles for when to lend a helping hand.
- I learned early on that you can’t let your loved one’s relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) take center stage. If you are doing so much for them that you stop doing what makes you happy or stop taking care of yourself, you may need some additional help.
- You can’t give up on your own dreams and adventures. I always tell others, “If you love to golf, then play golf; if you love tennis, continue to play; if you like to go on walks, then walk.” You can’t stop being you because you are a caregiver! My passion is cooking. I love to cook, and I still do, every day.
- There is no shame in asking for help. I find that family and friends want to help, but need to be given a specific task to help with. The symptoms of MS can change daily, which means caregiver responsibilities can also change daily. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask for a night off and rely on friends and family to help. If you’d prefer, start simple, like asking someone to make dinner for your family.
- Let your loved one continue to do the things they can. As caregivers, we can’t do everything for them, and we shouldn’t try. I learned about my wife’s RRMS, and now, I watch and see where she might need help each day. If she can still do the task, I let her.
- Keep track of the ways your loved one needs your assistance, and, if the list continues to grow, you might want to seek assistance from his or her healthcare provider.
- Sharing is the final key to success. If your family doesn’t know all the things you do as a caregiver, they may not realize how much you are really doing. Share your loved one’s needs with your family, and they may offer to help.
What tips would you give Care Partners learning to help their loved ones? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on the Lift MS® Facebook page.
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Melanie | February 18, 2017Please give me information on different symptoms to look for her for changes for the worse in the person I love and help care for
Teva's Lift MS® Team | March 23, 2017Hi Melanie, Your health care provider is always a great resource for information. For additional information about relapsing MS, check out this blog post: https://www.liftms.com/education/relapsing-ms. Best Wishes!
Susie | February 23, 2017My loving husband Mark takes such good care of me, he is always there. He deserves a wonderful vacation or a wonderful payment. He reads my eyes, he can see pain or stress or just frustration.
Teva's Lift MS® Team | February 24, 2017What an inspiring story, Susie! We appreciate your contribution to the community.
Linda | July 13, 2017Thanks for the tips for caregivers. I am a caregiver for my 41 year old daughter and to read other caregiver ways and means to help is very encouraging . If there are other caregivers out there maybe can begin a chat.
Teva's Lift MS® Team | July 14, 2017We loved reading your story, Linda. If you want to connect with other patients and Care Partners with MS, we recommend visiting Teva’s Lift MS Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/liftms.
Adrienne | November 02, 2017My mother was diagnosed with MS over 30 years ago, when I was a toddler. Watching her physical independence slowly change through the years has been difficult, but it exposed the unconditional love a daughter has for her mom, by the roles changing from her caring for me to me do everything in my capability to meet her needs! I feel so blessed that this road has only made our bond STRONGER!
Teva's Lift MS® Team | November 03, 2017Thank you for sharing and being a part of what makes this community great, Adrienne.
Tom | March 12, 2019I have absolutely no family support. They feel if they dont see me. Or spend much time with me. Or the m.s. is not talked about. It doesn't exist. And it sucks so bad. It hurts. I have to use a Walker or a scooter to get around. I live alone in a bldg for the elderly and disabled. I've tried to talk to my family about me living with m.s. there just not interested. Theres nothing more I can do
Teva's Lift MS® Team | March 13, 2019It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, Tom. We’re glad you’ve reached out for support. Let us know how we and the community can help.