DON’T Say THIS to a Caregiver!

It is no secret that sometimes our friends, even our closest friends, just don’t know what to say to make us feel better.  The truth is that there aren’t many things one can say to make caregiving easier. There are no platitudes, no cliches, no magic words, no secret coded phrases that will make it easier to care for our loved ones.

So, sometimes our friends say things that they HOPE will help. They really have good intentions most of the time. But sometimes we say things that aren’t practical or helpful, without realizing it. Here is a short list of what NOT to say to a caregiver and why.

“The days will go by so quickly.” No, they don’t, and the nights are even longer.

“He/She will be so thankful for all you do for them. They will thank you over and over again.” This is not necessarily true, especially if there is loss of cognition. In fact, when your loved one DOES thank you, write it down and mark that day because it may not happen again! Be thankful for all positive comments from them.

“We’ll be right here with you to help you,” says our friend. That is a nice sentiment, and they probably mean well, but when it comes to the most personal care we give, we end up doing it alone 99% of the time. While we would ask a CNA to help with personal clean-up, we wouldn’t ask that of a social friend. And the CNA will not be there during most times when things get messy.

“You should rest/sleep every time they do, just like when you have a young baby.” That also sounds good, but there are 2 problems with that. First, while our loved one sleeps, sometimes all we can think about is how much there is to do around the house. Second, just when we finally nod off to nap, we hear them call our name. They need us or they want something. It is so hard to relax when we know it will likely be short-lived.

“Be sure to get out with your loved one often. It will help both of you!” That sounds good, but do our non-caregiver friends know how much work it takes to get them ready and into the car with all the extra things they need to take? Yes, we want to take them places, but it is a LOT of work. Yes, it is probably worth it most of the time, but I repeat – it is a LOT of work.

Now that you know what NOT to say, you’d probably like some replacements. What do we want to hear? Here are a few:

  • “You’re doing a great job. Is there anything I can do to help?”
  • “Can I just come by for a quick visit with you and your spouse? I promise to stay just a few minutes.”
  • “I’m stopping by our favorite coffee shop. What can I bring for you and your spouse?”
  • “Don’t give up. I cannot even imagine how hard it is, but you’re doing well. I’m so proud of you.”

We just need encouragement, not suggestions or solutions. Just support!

Thanks for reading, commenting, encouraging, and being a good friend.


Published by parkinsonscare

I'm a retired mathematics teacher, mother, and grandmother. I cared for my husband for 23 years, and now he is in Heaven. My new mission in life is to support and encourage caregivers like you!

16 thoughts on “DON’T Say THIS to a Caregiver!

  1. This is excellent! Even though my caregiving is different from what yours was, there are so many similarities. Here’s what I don’t like people saying: “Have you ever tried…? Have you thought about…?” And here is what I wish people WOULD say: “How about if I take Aaron on a walk? Or would he like to go out to eat or to a movie?” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cheryl, you made me laugh about how many times I have heard those things. I would add one more, “You are so BLESSED to have her in your life.” I capitalized blessed because that is where the emphasis is in that statement. It usually comes from an acquaintance who either visits their mom or sister or friend in some sort of assisted living or nursing facility. I don’t want to offend anyone but “blessed” is not a term I would use.
    I am blessed to have my Cheryl in my life. I love her deeply and there is little I would change, except maybe the PD. We do not have any control over PD so we just deal with it.
    Cindy – wife of Cheryl’s cousin and a fellow bike enthusiast – asked me one day last November, What do you do for exercise? I hesitated long enough that she proposed coming over once a week for a couple hours so I could do whatever. – I am working on a network of folks to do this once in awhile. Cindy is a regular and a true BLESSING.
    Great article!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. his is so true that they think they are helping, but … especially with the napping while they sleep. That is when I can get a lot of things done without stopping to check on where he is or what he is ‘reorganizing’ or ‘hiding’. I have a good friend that lost her husband to Alzheimer’s, she has been in the trenches and knows that actions speak louder than words. What a gift she is in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great subject and comments! Just about a week ago I felt really angry with a friend whose husband died of cancer several years back and now likes to try to console caregivers who have husbands with terminal illnesses. Fact is, her caregiving lasted about a year while mine is moving into year 14. I could barely contain my resentment when she offered to pop by for a quick visit to encourage me. Should I have felt angry? No. She was only trying to help, I think. But strangely, I fely put upon rather than loved by her suggestion. Maybe an offer to buy a meal and leave it with me at the door followed by a quick hug would have been more appropriate. Anyway, there’s my story of what not to say or do. No doubt I’ve been guilty of insensitivity, too. I still love her. Let’s hope that I’ll be a better encourager in the future due to this experience. Thanks for your blog. Once again, it strikes a chord!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, my friend. I am not judging another’s motives, just letting them know that sometimes their suggestions are not helpful. They could always ask us what we need, right? That might be a good course to follow in the future. Hugs to you!


  5. I think that this needs to be on my Facebook Home Post. It’s too good to not poast for everyone to see.


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