When caring for a person with a life-limiting illness, you are giving a tremendous gift. Yet this does not mean you have to give up yourself, nor do you have to carry out this new role alone. Friends, relatives and your hospice care team want to help. Without help, the demands may become too much, draining you physically and emotionally.
To avoid the urge to do it all, consider making a “sunshine list”—a compilation of little things that would brighten the days for you and your loved one. Keep it handy to share with others when they ask “How can I help?” or “What do you need?”
Your friends and family want to help but often don’t know how. Instead of answering the question “How can I help” with “I don’t know,” share your sunshine list and let them choose.
Here are some items you might add to your sunshine list:
- Mowing the yard
- Making a trip to the grocery store for small items
- Taking out the trash and recycling
- Fixing a meal
- Providing gifts of lotion, baby wipes, note cards or stamps
- Reading to the patient
- Sitting and talking with the patient
- Giving the caregiver an hour break
- Massaging the patient’s feet or back
- Taking children to activities
- Walking the dog
- Emptying the litter box
- Sharing old photographs with the patient
- Bringing flowers
Think about what would really brighten your day and lighten your load, and don’t be ashamed to ask for what you want and need. People want to feel needed.