Why thank a caregiver?

Have you had the opportunity to provide care to a family member or friend? I had the privilege of being my late mother’s full-time caregiver for 9 ½ years. After she broke her hip at the age of 93, I ended my forty-year career in the public sector. I learned how to provide care for someone with age-related dementia and other health issues.

The cornerstone of being a successful caregiver for a loved one is to do so with honesty, humor and love.  Caregiving is a difficult undertaking, but the results are rewarding.  Caregivers should not regret the time, effort or energy they expend to ensure another person’s safety and wellbeing.

Caregiving is a physical, mental and emotional journey. As I have mentioned in my book, it is not for sissies. It is a gig that mandates you gather strength from whatever sources are available. Although at times it seems daunting, caregiving is not a permanent situation but a temporary assignment you assume, only if you choose to do so. Think of it as providing random acts of kindness and know that in the end, the pure joy you reap will be from the meaningful contribution of giving of yourself.

If you know someone who provides care to other people, either as a career or family caregiver, tell them thank-you.  Full-time family caregivers often live in isolation and seldom receive recognition for their efforts.  A heartfelt thank-you will serve to give anyone involved in providing care to others the nudge that just may be needed that day to continue in their efforts.

Here are a few ways you can show gratitude to caregivers today:

Make a gift basket

Assemble a gift basket of items you think the caregiver will appreciate.  Items such as a coffee and a coffee mug, a book, or specialty foods such as their favorite candy, cheese or fruit which they can enjoy.  The size doesn’t matter. Caregivers will appreciate the thought.  Always include a personalized note.

Give a gift certificate

Gift cards or certificates to individual retailers or restaurants are always appreciated. Not all caregivers can leave to go shopping or out to dinner.  If this is the case, then select an online gift certificate.  They will appreciate having the flexibility of selecting something online, or to redeem your gift in person.

Offer a helping hand

Gift baskets or gift certificates can be expensive.  There are endless possibilities of ways one can thank a caregiver.  An offer to assist with issues around the house, like cleaning the yard after the leaves have fallen or walking the dog or running errands to a grocery store, pharmacy or post office.  An offering your time is always appreciated.

Cook them a nice meal

The gift of a meal prepared by someone else is always a delight to a caregiver. A gift of a recipe, instructions and ingredients to prepare a meal is also appreciated.   Finally, perhaps you can enjoy the repast with the caregiver and their loved one for an extra added measure of fellowship.

Write them a letter or card

When you want to show gratitude to caregivers, consider writing them a thoughtful letter or card. Take your time to express your feelings about everything the caregiver has done for their loved one. Tell them how thankful you are for their hard work and dedication. In the digital age, receiving a handwritten letter or card can be very meaningful.

Keep Your Promise

One of the saddest things I experienced as a caregiver was when someone called and promised to stop by and never did.   I cannot tell you the number of times people who were former friends or neighbors called to see how we were doing and ended a call with “I’ll call soon and make a date to drop by.”  Well, they dropped off the end of the earth and never came to see my mother and me.  If you tell a caregiver that you will visit, then make the time to visit them.  Let them know you value their friendship even if they can’t join you on an outing.  Remember a promise made should be kept.

Make time to listen and connect

Showing gratitude to caregivers is often something that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of our busy daily lives.  People do not often think to say thank you and caregivers often feel their efforts are taken for granted.  Unless there is a medical emergency that requires others knowing or notice, the caregiver is out of sight, out of mind.  People are content and satisfied to know a loved one is being cared for.  When a friend or other family member makes time to visit with the caregiver and their loved one it is special to them.  Allowing the caregiver the opportunity to interact with someone else is the opportunity to take time from their routine to reconnect with the outside world.   Make the time to listen to what the caregiver has to say and share what is important in your life. 

 Giving gratitude to caregivers doesn’t have to be a difficult or costly endeavor.  In the end, it is very rewarding and you will feel good for just saying thank you.

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