We’ve been asking wrong from the beginning.

“Hey, let me know how I can help,” you say sincerely.

“No, I am fine,” replies the family caregiver.


Sound familiar? The problem is that the caregiver is overwhelmed and doesn’t realize how you can help because they are singularly focused on providing the best possible care for their loved one.  (Let’s be honest — loved one may be a stretch in some cases.)

Additionally, caregivers seldom self-identify as a caregiver or someone who needs help.  They may see your assistance as defeat or a sign of weakness.

November is Family Caregiver Month which makes it the perfect time to find a caregiver and suggest ways to potentially make their life a little easier. The best part is that these ideas will take two hours or less.

Start the conversation off by acknowledging their selfless act of caring.  Let them know that you have two hours to give.  Provide a suggestion on what they may value:

“Jim, I appreciate that you take great care of Carol.  I’ve got 2 available hours this week.  Can I take your car into the shop for an oil change for you?”

Top items that caregivers seldom have time to do

  • Return library books
  • Change air filters
  • Take dog to groomer or vet
  • Visit the post office to mail or pick up packages
  • Wash vehicle
  • Visit pharmacy
  • Rotate tires
  • Repair sprinklers
  • Sort recyclables
  • Clean up after pets
  • Pull weeds
  • Cut hair
  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Get a manicure/pedicure
  • Fold laundry
  • Wash windows 
  • Run errands
  • Return items to stores
  • Shop for groceries /li>
  • Prepare meals
  • Mow lawn
  • Put up the Christmas lights (or take down)
  • Change light bulbs or batteries

If you are comfortable tending to the care recipient while the caregiver leaves, try this approach:

“Can I stay here with Tammy while you go and get your hair cut?”

I challenge you to find at least one family caregiver in November and give up 2 hours of your time to provide a little comfort and relief to a hardworking and often forgotten caregiver!

The Arizona Caregiver Coalition would love to hear your success stories and see the pictures.  Please share.