The best answer to the question, "Is there anything you need?" is "Yes."
"Yes, I need someone to stay here so I can go out." Or "Yes, I could really use a nap." Letting others help can make your caregiving easier. Know where to find help when you need it. The more support you have, the more successful you are likely to be.
Your best-selling book The Year of Magical Thinking chronicles your grief following the loss of your husband, John. What surprised you most about grieving?
I did not expect the degree of derangement-both physiological and mental. An example of the latter: Two weeks after John died, when I filled out a hospital form for the autopsy report, I gave not my own address but that of an apartment in which we had lived for the first four or five months of our marriage, in 1964.
Is there something...
When family or friends offer to lend a hand, be ready with specific ideas. Let them pick something they would like to do. For example, you could ask them to:
Pick up a few items at the grocery store.
Fix a meal or do some cleaning or yard work.
Stay with the person you care for so you can go out for a while.
There are other ways to find support. For example:
Hire a teenager or older adult to help for a few hours a day.
Find a grocery store that delivers.
Hire a home health aide or personal care assistant.
Sign up for homemaker or chore services or "Meals on Wheels."
Services that may be useful to caregivers include the following:
Respite care may be the most important service for caregivers. Respite services provide someone who will stay with the person while you get out of the house for a few hours. If the person you are caring for needs routine medical care, you may be able to arrange to have the person stay in a nursing home for a few days while you get away for a break.
Adult day centers are "drop-off" sites where a person who does not need individual supervision can stay during the day. This service is usually offered during working hours and may or may not be available on weekends. Meals, personal care services, and social activities are provided.
Adult foster care or board-and-care homes are private homes where older adults receive around-the-clock personal care, supervision, and meals. Some states require board-and-care homes to be licensed.
Nursing homes generally have two levels of care. Intermediate care includes assistance with using the toilet, dressing, and personal care for people who do not have serious medical conditions. Skilled nursing care is usually for people who have just come from the hospital or for others who have medical conditions that require more intensive nursing care. Some facilities have special units for people with dementia.