Though we may know we’re loved, we may not always feel that love from the people we care about. For caregivers, whose daily interactions with loved ones may include stress and tension, this can be especially true.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous 5 Love Languages focuses on five different ways people enjoy giving and receiving love. Though these love languages were initially created to guide married couples, they’ve since grown in popular discussion and are often applied to platonic and familial contexts - and even in a caregiving context. The benefit of understanding these different “languages” is being able to both receive and demonstrate love in a way that truly resonates and makes us (and our loved ones) feel deeply cherished and valued.
Acts of Service
Acts of service don’t have to be grand gestures. Something as simple as helping out with practical tasks and errands can be counted as an act of service for a loved one. Things like:
- dropping off/picking up prescriptions
- driving someone to/from doctor’s appointments
- bringing a meal to someone so they don’t have to worry about dinner
are examples of acts of service that remove the burden and stress from someone with this love language, who you care about.
Words of Affirmation
For many people, actions don’t always speak louder than words. In fact, compliments and positive affirmations can be the most effective way to show someone they are loved. For people with this love language, telling them:
- they’re doing a great job helping to take care of loved ones
- they’ve made the right decisions for their loved one’s care
- they sacrifices they’ve made are greatly appreciated
are all positive statements that affirm them, and encourage them along their caregiving journey.
Time is precious, and for many people, sharing it is the greatest expression of love. Some examples of this love language include:
- working around a busy schedule to spend time together
- giving someone complete attention, without distractions
Though simple, sharing meaningful moments of your time with someone you care about, can make them feel cherished and valued- no matter what you’re doing together.
Some of us aren’t exactly “touchy feely,” while others are. For those who are physically expressive, there are a number of ways to support their love language:
- Comforting someone who’s grieving with the squeeze of the hand
- Hugging someone as you greet them
- Patting someone on the back as you listen to them
These are just some examples of small physical gestures that can be deeply comforting to someone with this love language.
Contrary to common perception, receiving gifts isn’t always materialistic. For some people, receiving gifts makes them feel thought of. Some ways to show affection for those with this love language include:
- Bringing them something as a ‘pick-me-up’
- Gifting someone something practical that you know will be useful to them
These gifts don’t have to be expensive- it’s truly the thoughtfulness and effort behind the action that makes this a meaningful love language for certain individuals.
These are the five love languages applied to caregiving. See what things align with the caregiver in your life to find out the ways they prefer to be shown love. This can help play a part in ultimately strengthening the special familial or platonic bonds in your life.