Today marks the first day of National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and honor the tremendous contributions of family caregivers.
Only those living through the experience first-hand truly understand the challenges of being a full-time caregiver, particularly for someone living with ALS. The ability to complete basic daily tasks can be overwhelming and the need for help is great.
Caregivers may feel defeated by the growing list of “things to do” they’re no longer able to manage, and it’s often hard to know when and how to ask friends and neighbors for help. For those who want to offer a helping hand, it’s difficult to know just what’s needed and how to make a difference.
“We also find that many times families impacted by ALS who really need the help, often times are uncomfortable accepting it and actually turn it away,” says Leslie Ryan, senior director of education and professional competencies at The ALS Association.
To help raise awareness of these issues and initiate the conversation about the many ways you can help caregivers and families impacted by ALS, we put together a list of ten ways you can help make a difference for the family caregiver in your life.
- Stay in touch.
ALS is a journey, find ways to be present all along the way. A simple card, email, phone call or visit can mean a lot.
- Do the little things.
Living with ALS can be overwhelming, making daily tasks challenging. Bring a meal, walk the dog, mow the lawn or take out the trash.Image
- Include the person living with ALS in activities.
ALS can feel very isolating for everyone involved, especially the person who is diagnosed. Encourage them to keep participating in daily life, continue with hobbies, and engage with friends and family.
- Be specific when offering help.
Life is busy, be honest about what you can and can’t do to help. Run an errand, drop off a meal, or help drive kids around to activities.
- Learn about ALS.
Do what you can to understand the disease and what to expect. Read up on the details, attend a support group, or meet with your local ALS care team.
- Keep showing up.
The ALS journey is different for everyone. Let them know you are there and will continue to be through the entire journey. And do it.
- Offer a shoulder to lean on.
ALS can create stress for the entire family. Be sure to offer your support and friendship and be present when you’re needed most.
- Build a network and coordinate support.
Providing the best quality of life for people living with ALS and their families can take a village. Recruit friends and family members, assign specific tasks and schedules, set up a Care Connection group.
- Keep all family members in mind.
Remember, ALS impacts EVERYONE in the family, regardless of age. Spread the love. Offer to take the kids to activities and help out with elderly relatives.
- Join the Fight.
We are committed to making ALS livable for everyone, everywhere, until a cure is found. Whether it's volunteering, fundraising, donating, or becoming an advocate, there are many ways to get involved in the broader fight against ALS.
In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, download this infographic about caregiving and share on your social platforms to support a caregiver you know. To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against ALS, visit our website HERE.
Additional information and resources just for caregivers can be found on our website HERE.
To continue to follow stories about people living with ALS in the community and learn more about the disease, follow our blog HERE.