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Tips For Caregivers

by Maureen Witmer on September 6, 2016

Knowing how to support a chronically ill friend, or anyone who is going through a hard time, can be a real challenge. It’s hard to know what to say, let alone how to help. One way I like to show my love is through food. Taking a meal to a friend, family, neighbor, or co-worker can communicate your support.

TakeThemAMeal.com is a free, online tool used to simplify the process of coordinating meals for others. The website began in 2007 when the site’s co-creator, Adina Bailey, heard the news that a close friend had collapsed from a sudden heart condition. Adina’s phone rang day and night with calls from people who wanted to help the young mom of four children. Adina, a busy mom herself, was overwhelmed by the task of keeping up with the meal schedule. She contacted her friend, Scott Rogers, and together they created an online resource that eliminates the need for time-consuming phone calls and emails so your energy can be spent caring for your loved ones. That’s how TakeThemAMeal.com was born.

Before setting up a meal schedule, there are some important questions you should consider asking the person or family receiving the meal.It’s worth taking the time to gather this information because it can help you better serve your friend in need.

Q- How many days a week would you like meals and on which days?
3-4 meals per week is a often a good place to start. Sometimes generous friends bring extra food and there are leftovers. You want to find the balance of enough but not too much food. TakeThemAMeal also allows you to choose which days you want the meals to arrive. Consider asking if breakfast or lunch on certain days would be beneficial.

Q- Who would you like to contact about signing up for meal?
This can include family, friends, co-workers, church members, neighbors and more. It’s always best to ask who they are comfortable sharing the schedule with.

Q- Should the meals be delivered to your door?
If there is a situation where it will be difficult for someone at the home to greet the meal providers (sadness, reduced immunity, desire for privacy, etc.), a cooler can be placed outside the front door with a note asking for the meal to be placed in the cooler. You can also arrange for meals to be delivered to a neighbor, friend or caregiver and that same person can deliver each meal.

Q- Do you have any special dietary needs?
Many illnesses bring with them dietary changes. If you are creating a meal schedule for someone with cancer, for instance, it is very important to include details about what they can and cannot eat or tolerate. Be as specific as you can and provide as many resources as possible to help the people signing up make the right decisions about what to take. You can include this in the notes section of your meal schedule. There is also place to put external links to websites that feature helpful resources, like recipes for special diets such as Cook For Your Life.

Q- Is there anything else that would be helpful during this time?
Whether it’s a ride to a medical treatment or someone to watch their kids, this is a good time to ask if they need any assistance beyond meals. Check back about their needs over time as their situation changes.

Once you have gathered this information, it is simple to set up the schedule. It takes less than 5 minutes and you don’t even need to set up an account. TakeThemAMeal even sends a reminder email the day before you are set to bring your meal. Go to www.takethemameal.com and press the “Click Here To Create A Schedule” link to get started!

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