Many of my friends and family members have parents with Alzheimer’s. Others have loved ones in assisted living who require additional attention. Caring for them well is the right thing to do (1 Tim. 5:4, 16). But the caregivers also need care. Research indicates that about a third of caregivers die before the person for whom they’re caring. It kind of makes sense. Caregivers have little time to get to their own doctor appointments. They’re sick of sitting in clinics with loved ones. And they put off routine care. So they may miss the benefits of early detection.
Many of those to whom we minister are caring for others, and they may not have many options for relief. So here are some ways church members can help those who are helping others:
1. Pick up groceries. And use an Amazon Prime membership to have specialty items delivered that might otherwise require a special trip.
2. Fill the car with gas.
3. Show up with a stash of batteries and replace dead ones in items such as flashlights and smoke detectors.
4. Empty the vacuum cleaner. Also, turn it over and get the hair out of the spinner.
5. Write a note of encouragement and send it to them.
6. Collect the trash. Put the garbage cans out on the curb for pick-up day.
7. Handle an oil-change errand.
8. Take home a load of laundry, and deliver it folded.
9. Offer to do holiday shopping.
10. Play cards or Scrabble—something quiet that allows the caregiver to enjoy your company in the context of his or her work.
11. Deliver packages to the post office.
12. Mow the lawn and water flowers.
13. Show up with wrapping paper, scissors, gift cards, and tape. Get the holiday wrapping done.
14. Bring a favorite flick to watch together—something uplifting.
15. Ask for preferences and deliver a library book.
16. Volunteer to wait for the dishwasher repair person.
17. Take dictation—help him or her send a letter.
18. Help the recipient of his or her care to write a thank-you letter.
19. Cook and deliver a meal in disposable containers. Or cook together.
20. Help decorate for the holidays. My father has Alzheimer’s, and last year my mom wanted only a few simple decorations—the family star that lights up, a nativity scene, and a tabletop ceramic tree with lights. After my sister and I got them set up, we turned out the lights and watched the star blink and the tree shine. With my parents we spontaneously sang “Silent Night”—a “thin-place” moment I will long remember as we await the next dawn of redeeming grace.