“Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘You know I love You.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said.” (John 21:16)
In America there are approximately 44 million caregivers who care for a family member, friends or neighbor. Caregiving is a full–time job. This month, celebrate and honor a family caregiver who has devoted their time and energy to helping a loved one by conducting a Caregiver Awareness Day. It is a perfect opportunity to say thank you and to show appreciation for the difficult work they do. More information about National Family Caregivers Month can be found from the links below;
- alz.org National Alzheimer’s Association
- michaeljfox.org Parkinson’s Support Network
One of the biggest challenges for a full time caregiver is carving out time for themselves. All patients and caregivers have differing levels of need and ability/mobility. The best thing is to connect with both the caregiver and their loved one. Ask what you can do to help and let them know by both word and deed that you support them.
Visit with caregiver to find out their needs
Some need help with bills, insurance issues, denial and appeal paperwork for therapy and treatment, legal issues around guardianship and many other financial and recordkeeping issues. These needs are specialized and involve private and personal information that require the assistance of a close family member. However, someone with a financial or legal background who can help sort out the practical side of all the paperwork and records can be a big help.
Offer to Read
Offer to read to, or otherwise assist, the disabled or elderly person with simple needs or tasks while the caregiver attends to the paperwork.
Offer to do yard work, housework, or run errands for the caregiver
Make a coupon book of redeemable small jobs: Vacuum upstairs or power–wash patio, trim hedges. Again, ask the caregiver what would be helpful.
Bring a Meal
Bringing a meal is a great expression of love and concern. An alternate idea is to prepare and package all the ingredients necessary for a meal in Ziploc bags along with the instructions on how to cook them.
Being a caregiver can be isolating and lonely for both the patient and the caregiver. You can bring a small gift such as a book, baked goods, fruit, or flowers. A visit and conversation with a friend does wonders.
Make Your Own Books on Tape
If you can’t visit often, ask for suggestions of authors, poets or short stories they like and record them onto CDs. It is nice to hear a friend or family member’s voice on tape, especially if they are far away.
Hold a Fundraiser
Raise funds to employ a home health aide who can on occasion provide respite for the caregiver to enable them to run errands or get a haircut or go to a movie.
Invite the women to make and deliver handmade cards with prayers and encouraging words for caregivers.
Emergency Bulletin Board
Create a list of phone numbers, emergency contacts and local helping agencies for the caregivers. Leave some blank spaces so that it can be personalized.
The Women’s Ministries group could use one of the above suggestions for a service project.
Dip Oreo cookies in white chocolate then toss on tiny marshmallows and a candy lamb head. Directions for making these can be found at: https://kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com/oreo-sheep
Decorations should be simple, calming and refreshing. Place framed pictures of Psalms 23 on the tables.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations in the world. Shepherds were responsible to lead the sheep to pasture, keep the flock together and protect it from predators. The role of shepherd is a caring one but never an easy one. Because of the need to keep the sheep moving to find food, they often live alone and devote themselves to the sheep under their care. In Bible times, they were considered to be on the fringes of society.
The shepherd has to be continually on guard, protecting their sheep from danger. Jesus gives us wonderful examples of what it means to be a shepherd, seeking out the lost sheep and even saying that He lays down His life for His sheep. What a beautiful picture of care and devotion for us to consider.
As we stop and think about caregivers, we see that their devotion to those under their care is truly amazing. They work hard to ensure that their loved one is kept safe and their needs met. Many put their own lives and desires on hold to care for those who can’t care for themselves.
David, who was a shepherd, penned a beautiful Psalm about God’s care for His people. The passage is a familiar one for many of us—Psalm 23 (Read Passage). We have the encouraging words of the Great Shepherd—God, who cares for each one of us. He leads us to places of quiet and refreshment. He guides us. He gives us the promise of His presence. We need fear no evil, because of His provision and protection.
For those who care for others, the burden can be very draining. But rest in the Lord provides the strength that is needed.