Did you know that the overwhelming majority of Americans identify with a religious affiliation? That is a very large proportion of our friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. This tells us that faith and small-and-large-faith communities matter for many of us. What you might not know is that many of these faith communities offer unrealized potential for support in time of need. Whether or not you have a religious affiliation, these communities can be a key resource for caregivers.
How Can A Faith Community Help You?
When you’re caring for a loved one – whether you have specific needs or are overwhelmed and seeking help in general- faith communities may be able to help. If you are not sure where to start, first speak with the leaders of your congregation about your situation. Here are some suggested ways in which a religious community could be helpful:
- They may be able to provide respite care when you need to tackle other tasks or just need a break. The more people available the easier it can be.
- They could visit with your aging loved one regularly to provide social interaction. This can be from local faith leaders, family, or friends.
- They could make accommodations to include you (the caregiver) and your aging loved one in church activities or bring the activities to you or your loved one’s home.
- Help with the day-to-day activities (shopping, errands, yardwork, etc.). There are plenty of people willing to roll-up their sleeves – they just don’t know it yet!
- They could provide you with the opportunity to create a support group within the community for you and your aging loved one. Others may be experiencing the same challenges, so you may even have the option of joining an existing group.
- They can answer questions about financial assistance programs in the community. Remember, these resources may be available – you just need to ask!
How Can You Help Caregivers in Your Faith Community
If you are currently part of a community and are looking for ways to help other caregivers, consider doing the following right now:
- Send letters, cards, or notes to those facing some tough challenges. These little actions can have a BIG impact.
- Demonstrate small acts of kindness, like bringing someone library books, walking their dog, sending flowers and other easy, but meaningful acts.
- Coordinate workshops or other programs within your community to educate and help others on the topic of caregiving.
- Be a sounding board when possible. Call the caregivers in your community and be there to listen.
- Make sure the caregivers know that you are all there to support them in time of need.
Faith communities can do a lot to support caregivers. You can tap into that resource by just asking, so consider reaching out now. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur. Build your support network and know others are out there to help.