Updated: Feb 11, 2020
For caregivers, having a support system is essential. From lending out help with everyday tasks, to offering a listening ear, or providing a carefree escape from the stresses of caregiving, a caregiver’s network plays a large role in their journey.
Though many caregivers may already be well aware of the value their loved ones bring into their lives, they may not get the chance to show their love and appreciation, or know how to express it. In this article, we’ll provide some realistic ideas for how caregivers can show love and appreciation to the people they care about:
Although caregivers may see some of their loved ones everyday, the endless demands of caregiving, and life in general, can get so busy that they don’t actually spend quality time with them. Even the sick person who may dominate most of the caregiver’s time may not feel like this time together is significant, especially if the caregiver is tense or frustrated during those moments. Simply being intentional with the time spent with loved ones, even when doing routine activities - can enhance the quality of those moments together. Set time aside for “distraction-free” interactions (without phones), and try to enjoy these simple moments outside the context of care, if possible.
Example: Whether it’s with a family dinner, or even while completing caregiving tasks, use this time to connect with loved ones through meaningful conversation. Try not to discuss care plans or errands that need to be taken care of, and replace it with sharing highlights of the week or things each of you are looking forward to.
For caregivers who may find themselves feeling overwhelmed with practical care duties, having someone step in to help with those responsibilities can mean the world. And, those who are lucky enough to have friends, relatives or other loved ones to lend a hand, may not know how to show their gratitude. Fortunately, there are many different ways caregivers can show appreciation for their loved ones, even if there’s minimal time to do it.
Example: Even when there isn’t much time to spare, it’s still worth the effort to make a few small gestures that will be greatly appreciated. Mailing a card with a written heartfelt message of thanks, sending flowers, treating someone to lunch, inviting them over for dinner, or sending them homemade baked goods are all simple ways to show someone that their support is valued.
Catching Up With Friends
There are many articles urging caregivers to socialize their sick loved ones in order to maintain their quality of life. Less discussed, is the necessity for caregivers to prioritize socialization for their own health. Research indicates that depression is known to affect as many as 40 - 70 percent of caregivers, which is often caused by loneliness. With the unending demands of caregiving for a loved one, it’s easy for caregivers to neglect their social relationships and become isolated. There are a couple of easy things that can be done in order to, both, combat unhealthy caregiver isolation and show old friends that their companionship is still valued.
Example: Reach out to a longtime friend and make plans to catch up with them over a cup of coffee or even over the phone. Even if you haven’t spoken to an old friend in a while, it’s likely that they’ll appreciate the initiative and will be happy to hear from you. For caregivers, having the ability to vent to someone who is willing to listen and acknowledge our pain, or being able to escape our own stresses by listening to theirs, is a great way to take a load off while maintaining those valuable friendships with others.
These are just some of the ways caregivers can start showing love and gratitude to those who play a meaningful role in their care journey.