Caretaking, particularly when it's long-term, can be tiring. But it's important to take time off for yourself to recharge. It's trite but true that if you're worn down, you won't be any good for your patient. That's where family and friends come in. Some suggestions and ways to show your support:
Volunteer an hour or so of your time and sit with the patient while the caregiver gets out for a walk, a massage, or trip to the salon, or movie. It's important for them to get out of the house and into the 'real world' to feel grounded.
Drop off a meal. Be sure to call ahead to discuss any dietary restrictons. After surgery, most patients don't have their appetite or taste buds back to normal, so simple meals of soups, fruit salads, etc. are great. It's not necessary to cook - there are plenty of catered options and ready-made meals to pick up at the store. Don't forget one of my most important rules--use disposable containers or containers you don't want returned, and make sure to tell them that. As great as it is to have meals given to us, we now have a bench full of pots, pans, and containers to return, which is just another thing that now needs to be done. I know I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth but still, avoid this problem and you'll doubly appreciated.
Running errands while you're already out and about is easy for you and helpful for them. Tell them when you have to run to the grocery or drugstore, or post office or cleaners, and see what you can pick up...
Drop off some books or magazines. Or a plant or flowers -- nice to see some natural beauty.
Walk the dog, vaccume the rug, rake their leaves, take the kids for ice-cream...you get the idea...
part two-if there is a death