The majority of Americans have provided care for a loved one or will become family caregivers at some point in their lives. Being a family caregiver is a demanding role and it is a role that often goes overlooked and undervalued. Family caregivers have to make a multitude of personal sacrifices because they put the needs of their loved ones before their own. They sacrifice time spent with others, sleep, leisure time, exercise and other healthy habits, work responsibilities, and their own personal care. These sacrifices can also take a toll on their mental health. Since November is a month dedicated to our family caregivers, it is important that you take the time to appreciate all that they do and the sacrifices they make. We have outlined five activities that you can do to show your appreciation for a family caregiver in your life!
Write Them a Card
Making a card for your loved one and letting them know that their sacrifices are not going unnoticed is a perfect way to personally express appreciation to a caregiver in your family. This can be a thank you note or even just a general card reminding them of how much you value what they do. Handwritten cards are the most meaningful because it shows that you spent time and went out of your way to get your positive message across. Receiving a handwritten card from a loved one is something that a family caregiver will cherish and keep as a reminder that the care that they give and the sacrifices they make do not go unnoticed by others in their lives.
Simple words and affirmations can go a long way when it comes to showing your gratitude to family caregivers. If they open up to you about their struggles with balancing their caregiving life and their personal life, make sure to hear them. Let them know that you understand the pressure that they have and that you are there to help them in any way that you can. Family caregivers often put their elderly loved one’s needs before their own and so fall behind on the important things in their life. This can cause stress and can weigh heavily on their mental health. Reaffirm them with your words and remind them to destress and take things one day at a time.
Take Them out for Coffee
Go on a coffee date and talk to them. Sometimes, the best way to show your appreciation for someone is just by listening to what they have to say. If it is hard for you to lend a hand, you can always lend an ear. If you make time in your schedule to take out a family caregiver to coffee and engage in conversation with them, it will positively impact both the caregiver and your relationship with them. Family caregivers have to sacrifice a lot of time for personal relationships because of their demanding role. This is why reaching out to spend personal time with a family caregiver you know is so meaningful to them.
Help with chores around the house like cleaning and organizing. Family caregivers often put their loved one's needs first and don’t have time to keep up with their own housekeeping. This can then lead them to be stressed about their living situation, which can negatively affect their mental health. Taking time out of your day to visit your family caregiver's home and help them with simple day-to-day tasks can really go a long way to relieve the pressure they feel. You can do laundry, cook them a meal, or just do general tidying up around their house.
Get them a Gift
Even something as simple as flowers can show that you’ve gone out of your way to show your appreciation for a caregiver in your family. Caregivers often have to neglect their personal lives while they provide care and gift-giving shows that you recognize their sacrifice. A gift of flowers or of their favorite food would make them feel special and would have a lasting effect on their living space. Seeing your gift would be a reminder for them that the caregiving that they do is important and valued by those around them. Giving them a gift will lift their mood and strengthen your relationship with them.
Keep in mind that showing appreciation for family caregivers in your life is an important thing to do even beyond the month of November. Caregiving is a demanding job that deserves to be recognized and properly acknowledged. Keep these five activities in mind when you interact with caregivers that you know.