I didn’t have the energy or mental capacity to try new recipes each night after work/ and do caregiving.
Popular advice right now says to take action and just step in and help.
Because it’s overwhelming to get asked “What can I do to help?” Or “Let us know if you need anything”
I must admit I’ll go against that popular advice, somewhat.
Yes, it can be overwhelming to have everyone ask what they can do, however it can also be overwhelming when people just provide something you may not want or need.
Especially something like food, which can spoil.
My advice is to ask better questions, with better timing and make sure you allow them to decline your offer.
I found a lot of people wanted to help right before my Mom came home from the hospital.
Which in theory is great, but it’s also a really stressful time. Throughout this experience and all my other caregiving times I’ve found this to be true over and over again.
We knew people had the best intentions, but timing was rough, which made it harder on us as well.
It was like, stop what you are doing and accept this help right now, right this minute.
Mostly on a normal day asking to check a website or make sure you got a gift card is fine, but right before someone comes home from hospital, is frustrating and can increase the caregiver’s stress.
One of the best things I did when someone asked to cook us a meal, I asked for it in a week instead of right when she came home from the hospital.
It was hard to request a change in a generous offer.
However, we all enjoyed the food much more a week after she was home from the hospital. Then that first blurry night of her being home.
That said, maybe someone else would want a meal that first night.
A better question would be:
Would it help you if I made a meal for this Tuesday or this coming Saturday? Feel free to say no or give me a different day.
This allows them to look at their schedule, (which has been flipped upside down by the way) and see if/when a meal would be helpful.
Be prepared there might be dietary restrictions.
If you want to help right before someone comes home:
Ask the caregiver if they want help getting their house ready.
Be clear on what you are willing to do. Maybe vacuum, change linens or help move furniture.
Most houses aren’t set up to have someone weak or have limited mobility as they come home.
A lot of times the night or two before someone comes home from the hospital (or surgery) the caregivers are frantically trying to make the house more user friendly for them.
Be prepared, the caregiver might be snippy with you if you do help. Most likely they are under extra stress. Let it roll off your shoulders and know it’s not personal, even if it feels like it is.
A note on gift cards:
Gift cards are great and gives them the choice of when to use the card.
If you want to make sure they got the gift card, especially an e-gift card, send them a text and say something like, I sent you a gift card from _____. When you get a chance can you let me know you got it?
That eliminates the immediate “go do this right now”, mentality.
Helping to lower their stress level.
People thrust into a caregiving role, know you are trying to help. It’s hard to ask or accept help.
And they might not know what they need until they are through it.
You and them won’t do it perfectly. It’s a dance and that’s okay.
Sometimes just text saying “Thinking about you” is the best feeling in the world.
As for my Hello Fresh order… After I calmed down, I relooked at it as groceries instead of new meals. And then used the fresh ingredients in dishes I knew how to prepare.
Stress level reduced.