I spent last week in Arizona at a leadership conference. It’s difficult to feel good about going out of town for a week because I worry I’ll be needed at home. Fortunately, cell phones, text messaging and email make it easy to communicate with my wife and daughters throughout the day. But there are things I do as a parent that my wife is no longer able to do. Someone else must fill in when I’m away.

For example, these days, I’m the family chauffeur because she’s not driving. While I prepared to leave town, scheduling dependable, trustworthy transportation was a concern. Out of the blue, a friend volunteered to pick my oldest daughter up each morning and take her to school and back home each day I was away.  Another friend volunteered to provide transportation to choir practice and church.

As it turned out, another friend filled in for the first volunteer when she had wrist surgery during the week!

Other friends make a point of telling me to remind my wife that she can call them for anything while I’m out of town. One friend tells me, “Anything, anytime.” And he means it.

What’s the message here? Friends are a blessing!

Unfortunately, caregivers may often find themselves isolated because their social lives are so constrained by the time and tasks required to provide care for a loved one. Friendship requires time and if you don’t have time to spare, it can be difficult to maintain friendships. In spite of this, it must be done.

Staying in touch with friends can be done as simply as making telephone calls or remembering birthdays with a card or letter. While you may not have time to prepare a full-course meal, perhaps you can take a short break and invite a friend over for coffee or hot tea and a stimulating conversation.

And when a friend bails you out, be willing to return the favor whenever you can. A nice “thank you” gift is appropriate, too … especially if the small gift is something your friend will value. For example, books (for readers) make great gifts.

You know your friends and they know your situation. They are aware of the additional stress you carry as a caregiver and they understand that even small gestures of friendship on your part are significant.

Caregiver Tip: Friends are a blessing. Bless your friends!

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