Caregiving is hard work, and it takes a special person to be the hands and feet of Christ when you are caring for your aging parent or family member. People mean well when they offer words intended to compliment, recognize or encourage you, but these expressions might just come at a wrong time or hit you the wrong way. If you know a family caregiver, consider these things to avoid when offering encouragement. If you ARE a family caregiver, maybe you need to share these thoughts with others.
- “God won’t give you more than you can handle,”or “You will be richly rewarded in heaven!”
When you feel you are at a breaking point, it really doesn’t help to hear words like these. Spiritually encouraging words may fall on deaf ears to a believer who wonders where they will find strength for today.
- “You’re looking tired, you need to take a break.”
I remember trying to fix myself up when my mother was dying. Her friends would come to visit her, ask how I was doing, and then tell me I looked tired. I knew I looked tired, I didn’t need them to remind me! Sometimes their words discouraged and disheartened me in those difficult days.
- “It must take a special person to do what you are doing. I’m sure I couldn’t do it!”
Well, it’s nice to know that someone thinks you are unique, but not so sweet that they find it so overwhelming, distasteful, discouraging, or any other negative descriptors. This phrase makes you feel even more alone on your care journey.
- “Why don’t you do that differently?”or “You should…”or “You should NEVER…”
These words are judgmental and cut deeply. Never compare yourself to someone else’s caregiving situation. Every family caregiver must walk their own road, and if they are not asking for help or advice, it’s not your place to offer it. If they DO ask for help, however…
- “Let me know if I can do anything to help.”
When you make this offer, be ready to receive a list of suggestions for how you can help. Maybe you can stay with a friend’s dad for an hour while she goes for a walk. Offer to shop for groceries and ask if you can bring things by tomorrow or the next day. Bring a cup of coffee or tea to share when you come by for a visit. Put legs on your offer and watch a support team take shape alongside you!
For more ideas on what not to say to a family caregiver, and what to say instead, click here.
For things not to say to a family caregiver dealing with Alzheimer’s, check out these ideas.
We hope you will join our conversation this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about things a family caregiver doesn’t want to hear.