There are 44 million people in U.S. caring for a loved one at home. Family caregivers go above and beyond to help the people close to them, dedicating their time and effort to meet someone else’s needs. All too often, they do this at the expense of their own health and wellness.
Caregivers do their part out of love and commitment, and don’t expect any reward. This makes it so much more important to reach out and let them know just how much they matter. Here are a few ideas.
1. Make them a meal
From coordinating care to preparing specialized meals, caregivers spend a great deal of their time taking care of others and it can be emotionally draining. They could all use some tender loving care, and nothing shows that better than a home-cooked meal. Food is a great way to share a connection and provide the emotional support that caregivers need. A meal is also a great time to have a chat, see how they’re feeling and talk about any issues they may be going through.
2. Help with chores
Caring for someone is a full-time job, and often it is one of many responsibilities. Many caregivers have work, other family, domestic tasks and daily errands to take care of. Do your part by volunteering your services as a babysitter, doing some house cleaning, or going on a grocery run. Anything you can do to help shoulder the burden will go a long way.
3. Give them time off
Sometimes the physical and emotional exhaustion of caregiving can be overwhelming. The stress of continuously managing a family member’s needs can leave caregivers feeling depleted. Provide them with some time to themselves by stepping in and being the caregiver for the day. Want to go a step further? Arrange an event for your caregiver to enjoy during their time off. A simple solution could be encouraging them to meet a friend for lunch or letting them take a hard-earned nap.
4. Provide resources and support
Family caregivers are usually not medical professionals, and are learning about health care on the fly. Thankfully, technology is making it easier to show our support to caregivers by giving them streamlined access to caregiving resources. Tell a caregiver about services like Vela, from Seniorlink, which provides access to information, coaching and a network of services including transportation, medical equipment, and more.
5. And remember to say thanks
Appreciating caregivers is about more than the gestures you make, it’s about showing your gratitude with your attitude. Don’t take family caregivers for granted. Show them the respect they deserve. Be patient with them, because they’re shouldering a lot of responsibility. Remembering to give them a serious and heart-felt “thank you” may be the most important thing you can do.