Each year, millions of caregivers in the U.S. provide unpaid care for a loved one. These caregivers, known as “informal caregivers,” may be a spouse, partner, family member, friend, neighbor – or, most often, an adult child. The average family caregiver helps with managing medications, preparing meals, taking care of housekeeping duties, and assisting with basic needs like bathing, grooming, and toileting. Different levels of caregiving vary from part-time to round-the-clock care. However, handling the non-medical aspects of caregiving can offer family members peace of mind knowing that their parent’s needs are being seen to. Caregivers don’t often ask for much in return. However, they may appreciate an occasional token of gratitude. How can you thank your family caregiver for all they do? Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to your family caregiver. Consider the following ideas, if you’re struggling with how to say “thanks” to your caregiver this holiday season.
1. Say, “Thank You.”
A simple “thank you” to your caregiver can go a long way and may be the only words necessary to express your gratitude. You can say “thank you” in person, say, at the Thanksgiving dinner table during counting of the blessings, or pull them aside at the right moment any time of year. You may choose to accompany this verbal expression of gratitude with a heartfelt card, letter, or caregiver poem of appreciation. No matter how you wish to do it, acknowledging your family caregiver as compassionate and competent will bring a smile to their face and reassure them of your love and appreciation for all they do.
2. Offer time off.
Being a caregiver can be hard. There is an emotional side of caregiving and feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, depression, fear, guilt, loss, and tiredness can be common. These feelings can be amplified for those with a job and other family members to care for. Consider giving your family caregiver a day off and suggest that they take time out for themselves. If it’s difficult to manage your daily tasks without your family caregiver for even a short period of time, consider hiring temporary help as an alternative. There are many options such as:
- Respite care: A short-term care option offered in a senior assisted living community that offers the elderly or disabled day-to-day supportive services.
- In-home services: Some community agencies, support groups, and faith-based organizations have volunteers who can help occasionally or on a regular basis.
- Home health care: To use home health services, a doctor must write the orders for the plan of care. Once approved, a wide range of health care services can be given in the home. Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) sometimes covers eligible home health services.
- Community programs: Adult day care programs typically offer health monitoring, meals, snacks, exercise, and sometimes transportation, therapy, medical care, and personal care.
- Residential facilities: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities often have short-term stay options.
3. Spend quality time together.
Quality time with your caregiver can be a great way to express your gratitude and remember the shared bond beyond the routine day-to-day tasks of caregiving. Consider watching a classic movie together over a bowl of popcorn, playing a game of cards, looking through old photo albums and recalling happy memories, or sitting in a nearby park and feeding the ducks.
4. Give a thoughtful gift.
A gift for your caregiver is a kind token of appreciation for all they do for you. Think about your caregiver’s time and what they would appreciate most. Flowers, a gift card, cash, or a donation to an organization in their name are all thoughtful gifts that show their hard work has not gone unnoticed.