How can I be more helpful?

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A very dear friend of mine cares for her mother of 95 in her home alone.
The last three months I have offered many times to help with more tasks about the home, supply transportation to and from doctor, shopping etc. She tells me that she can handle it all on her own, and doesn't want to trouble me.

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Next visit ask her what her plans are for the week. Then say, "I'd really like to help, I'm going to grocery or drugstore or whatever..."what can I pick up for you?" Or how about making some small meals, portioned for two, and bring over so she can easily freeze or re-heat. How about offering to sit with mom one morning or afternoon while she goes out with another friend?

Make a small basket with a few treats, some magazines, a book, all occasion cards or assortment of cards and stamps.

Or bring over breakfast or lunch with all the plates napkins, drinks, etc and spend some real time with her and her mother, maybe play a card game or scrabble together...or just visit. It will be so appreciated when you just take the initiative to plan and take the decision making off her. Certainly call the night before and tell her your plan.

It's hard for others to ask for or accept help, but kind gestures are always appreciated. Isolation for caregivers is so common and difficult as they watch friends move on or enjoy activities they can't schedule.

Good luck and let us know what works.
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vettemcb -- I'm caregiver for my 95-year-old mother, alone with her in her home, and can see you've already received excellent suggestions. What to do depends on the stage of the mother's dependency and what truly is needed by your friend. Find out by listening to her. And, most important, don't give up on her because she may not be able to live up to the usual expectations one has of a *friend.* Blessings for anything you are able to do.
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The best thing you can give is respite care. The problem is the care recepient might not take to strangers. Maybe you could just visit several times a week, and see what needs to be done, laundry, taking the trash out, cleaning. Try and get to know the mother and what she needs. Slowly, very slowly, maybe you can take over some of the duties, till her mother likes and will allow you to stay with her, giving your friend a break. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be an emotional outlet, a shoulder on which to lean, an ear to pour all your friends sorrow and fear. Just knowing someone shares your burden is an immense relief.
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Is her mom mobile? Offer to take her mom somewhere! She may yearn (as I do) for just a few hours by herself at home.
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A friend asked what she could do to help me-I said call me once a week so I can talk to a normal person-she never did-I now past caregiving-he passed 4 yrs. ago-wish I had not been too proud or vein to ask for help-after a while people stop asking and if you are the friend just do some of the things listed above-getting a meal together may help more than you can imagine.
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As someone who is a very private person I can understand your friend's reluctance to accept help. Even if she wants it, it can be difficult to figure out how to incorporate a friend into your caregiving routine. What you may think is a simple trip to the doctor can actually be a much more complex routine that involves managing assistive devices, reassuring the charge who is afraid or unwilling to leave the house, etc. But friends who truly want to help like this are just the best. If it were me, I'd most appreciate something like sunflo2's great suggestion of a basket of treats with which to pamper myself--something I never get to do anymore. Also, if you're a good cook bringing over dinner sometimes is a wonderful idea. (For me and my charge mornings are the hardest and neither one of us would appreciate a morning visit, so dinner is better).
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She probably feels that she doesnt want to bother anyone. That was my problem untill my nerves started getting the bestbof me. Daddys hospice nurse told me I couldnt do it all alone or I would be sick. Just offer to set with her mom a few hrs so she can have some slone time. Even if its just walking it helps. Or take food over so she want have to cook. Start slow she really wants help I did but didnt want to bother people. Hope this helps
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Be a friend, mostly by not only showing compassion (you certainly do already), but ensuring that your care giving friend feels the reality aside. By that I mean, take her out, have fun on whatever adventures/misadventures, and most of all communicate the good and bad; while sharing much joviality... Her Mom would've wanted for her daughter to be happy, so a brief, or longer, distraction outside are all good. Big smiles and thanks:D
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Be available when she needs to vent. sunflo2 had good suggestions. Being a caregiver is tough at the best of times. My husband is usually fine during the day (he has PD), but he "sundowns" at night. So maybe some relief at night would help, as well. And not too much TV! If she can handle it, and it's tough, try the games on lumosity.com. They are difficult, but designed by neurologists to exercise the brain, and they chart your progress. Three games a day are free, five are (I think) under $5 a month.
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Boy, would I have loved to have a friend like you! Let her do what she is doing, she will begin to wear from the stress and strain and will then welcome any and all help, that is if you feel like giving it at that point. No one person can do it all alone, I found this out the hard way. You sound like a wonderful friend.
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