Caregivers – How Can We Help Them
08 March 2021
Do you have friends who are caregivers? Read the attached article to find suggestions for ways to minister to them. If you have other ideas, please share them here as well!
We are the Cope family and live in Erie, Colorado, USA. My name is Ann, my husband is Robb, and we are parents to our 19-year-old son Croix. Croix has a mitochondrial genetic defect that manifests the following conditions. He is wheelchair-bound, non-verbal, and cognitively impaired. He is unable to read or write but is a joyful young man who is outgoing and engaging. Our journey started when Croix was about 6 months old and he wasn’t hitting the expected developmental milestones. Concerns led us to seek answers from pediatricians and child development specialists.
Being parents and caregivers to a special needs child with a lifelong disability comes with unique concerns, responsibilities, and challenges that go beyond the care of typical children. With that being said, we wouldn’t change the path we have been on but will relay some strategies that have helped us navigate Croix’s development. We trust this will also shed light on the direction others can come alongside to assist a caregiver.
Because of the demands a disability necessitates, caregivers face stresses in countless areas. Medical uncertainty, full-time hands-on care, coordinating long-term plans for the child as the caregiver(s) age, single parenting in many instances, and social isolation to name a few.
We are blessed with access to schooling, medical care, outreach activities, and programs, but some caregivers are not as fortunate. This accentuates the need from family and friends to assist the caregiver.
How You Can Help Caregivers:
First and foremost, be the initiator with the things listed below. A caregiver has learned to be self-sufficient, and in many instances has become isolated and won’t ask for help.
- Friends calling to talk/pray/get together. A listening ear can bring peace for an acute or an on-going concern of a caregiver.
- Friends coming over to take child/young adult for a couple of hours so the caregiver can get out.
- Prepare a meal if the special needs child has surgery or medical appointments.
- Run some errands for the caregiver or help in house/maintenance.
- Typical students/youth at church befriending special needs child/engaging with them.
- Family/friends coming to stay with the child for a night or two to give caregivers a respite from duties.
- Monetary gift if the caregiver struggles financially.
Caregivers can utilize the services of a Community Centered Board in many cities. Joining activities with the special needs communities to engage with other parents of special needs children is invaluable.
Robb and I have managed the demands by purposefully initiating self-care. In the physical as well as emotional domains, we have remained active to keep in shape. Staying fit for the heavy lifting of Croix is vital, but it also relieves stress. We seek the Lord’s counsel through prayer, life group, lifetime friendships, and attending church. We know and have faith that Jesus has lifted us up in seasons of struggle and doubt, and He has surrounded us with His grace as we care for our precious son Croix.