November is Family Caregiver Appreciation month. In appreciation of all family caregivers we would like to share with you 10 ways you can show your appreciation.
1. Ask if there is something specific you can do for the caregiver.
Often when we ask a caregiver, “What can I do to help you?,” there are so many things that come to mind. If you make a request to help with a specific task, the caregiver may be more likely to accept your help, without adding additional stress. Examples of specific tasks that you can ask caregivers to help them with might include: picking up dry cleaning, getting the car washed, clean house or fixing a meal.
2. Raise awareness within your community.
Unless you personally know a family caregiver; caregiving in general may not always cross your mind. You can raise awareness about family caregivers within your community by working with your city council or county commissioners to get them to issue a local proclamation to honor and recognizing caregivers in the community, similar to the national Presidential Proclamation.
3. Shorten the caregiver ‘to-do’ list.
Family caregivers can get bogged down trying to keep up with everything around the house while also caring for their loved one. Take something off of their ‘to-do’ list. Mow the lawn, shovel snow, or go to the grocery store. If you are not near enough to do this yourself, hire a service to help out on a regular basis.
4. Offer compassion by spending quality one-on-one time with the caregiver.
Many family caregivers can become isolated from friends and family while caring for their loved one. Be available to the caregiver and make sure they understand that you are there as a support system. Talk to them, let them vent their frustrations, worries and fears, while offering compassion and understanding.
5. Send a little ‘Thank You.’
Send the caregiver a little token of your appreciation. For example, you could show you care by sending a hand-written thank you note, flowers, a gift certificate to their favorite coffee shop or spa. The item of gratitude doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful.
6. Bring the ‘get away’ to the caregiver.
Sometimes caregivers need to get away for their own health, but may not feel comfortable leaving their loved ones. Bring the “get away” to them. Pick up a meal from the caregiver’s favorite restaurant. Rent a new movie they would like to watch and bring snacks for a movie night.
7. Offer to take the caregiver’s children to different events.
For many caregivers, they are not only responsible for their loved one, but other members of their family, such as children or aging parents. Offer to take their children to soccer practice, birthday parties or school events. If they are caring for aging family members, offer to take their loved one to doctor appointments.
8. Prepare freezer meals for the caregiver.
Make dinner an easier task for the family caregiver by preparing freezer meals with instructions on how to reheat. Be sure to talk to the family caregiver before putting these meals together to ensure that the meals are meeting dietary restrictions and are something that they will actually eat. Consider making the freezer meals small enough to fit in their freezer and appropriate serving sizes for their family.
9. Offer to stay with the care-recipient.
Although there are respite services available to family caregivers, often times caregivers are weary to have someone they are not familiar with care for their loved one. Offer to stay with the care-recipient so that the caregiver can have a night off or a weekend away.
10. Stay in touch.
The simplest way to say thank you to a family caregiver is to actually say “thank you” and to stay in touch with them. Check in regularly and see how things are going.
What are other ways to say “thank you” to a family caregiver?
Let us know in the comments!
This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on November 4, 2016.