If you’re not a caregiver yourself, you probably know someone who is. There are more than 40 million people in the United States who have taken on the role of caregiver for a senior loved one. While it’s a job that’s often unappreciated, unpaid and incredibly stressful, filled with long days, endless tasks and constant chores.
“For many seniors, having a family caregiver allows them to enjoy a higher quality of life than they would be able to provide for themselves, especially if the senior has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease,” says Sue Sunderland, Executive Director of The Bridges at Warwick, a supportive personal care community in Jamison, PA. “Since hiring a caregiver can be incredibly expensive and out of the financial reach of many, having a family member take on that role is priceless. However, very few people outside of the situation can understand and appreciate how much work caregivers do.”
Since November is National Family Caregivers Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to honor, celebrate and support the caregivers in your life. Whether you have a family member or friend caring for someone with dementia, or a loved one who lives in a dementia care community like The Bridges of Warwick, here are some ways to show your appreciation:
Give a caregiver a day off.
Caregiving is literally a 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week job. There are no paid vacations or sick days, and very little – if any – down time. One of the best ways you can show a caregiver your appreciation is by offering to care for the senior yourself and giving the caregiver a day off. The chance to go shopping, see a movie, go out for dinner, get a massage or simply sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day can be a well-needed break. If you or another family member can’t watch the senior yourself, consider using respite care at a dementia care community such as The Bridges at Warwick. These programs allow you to have your loved one “stay over” at a community for a short amount of time and take advantage of everything the community has to offer. It provides high-quality care for your senior loved one, and peace of mind for you.
Provide the gift of self-care.
Caregivers often neglect themselves and their needs when they’re taking care of a senior loved one. While a day off is great, it’s also nice to do things that help them take their mind off the stress:
- Pay for a membership. Does the caregiver enjoy going to the gym? Getting a monthly massage or manicure? Purchase a gift card or pay for a few months of membership to a place the caregiver frequents. Anything that helps them take care of themselves and indulge a little will make a world of difference.
- Pay for a date night.Going out for the evening is always a special occasion. Offer to pay for a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant, or buy a night at the movies. Let the caregiver choose what they would like to do, and make sure they can enjoy it fully without having to worry about their senior loved one.
- Provide a service that lightens their load. Schedule a cleaning service, have a dog walker come and take Fido out every day or have groceries delivered. These days, you can hire someone to do just about anything for you, so taking a chore or two off a caregiver’s plate is easier than ever.
Offer to help on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to show your appreciation and gratitude is by asking the caregiver what you can do on a regular basis to help them out. Maybe you can cook dinner a few nights each week, or do a weekly grocery run or take over scheduling doctor’s appointments. Even if a task feels small to you, taking it off your caregiver’s plate will be a big deal. You can even go one step further and rally all the troops (other friends and family members) to divvy up chores and responsibilities on a rotating or regular schedule.
Provide financial support.
Family members who can and are able to contribute to the care of their senior loved one should do so. Oftentimes the financial burden is shouldered by the person who is directly caregiving for the senior, so if that’s not you, ask and see if there’s anything you can do to help make sure your loved one’s needs are met. Perhaps installing a chair lift or remodeling a bathroom to make it wheelchair-friendly would be a worthy investment to improve your loved one’s life.
Be a shoulder to lean on.
Caregiving is an emotional task, and oftentimes, caregivers need to cry, vent or otherwise get something off their chests – but they may not always feel like they can. By providing a caregiver the space and the chance to worry, complain, cry and even get angry without having to think about your reaction is an incredibly generous and powerful expression of your appreciation.
Use your words.
Don’t just show a caregiver you appreciate them. Tell them, too. Whether it’s simply saying, “You’re doing a good job,” or another kind compliment, you let them know their actions do not go unnoticed. You can even go a step further and write a letter to the caregiver, letting him or her know exactly how much their work, sacrifice and caring means to you and everyone around you.
Caregiving for a loved one with dementia is a lot of work, and caregivers often don’t get much in return. By simply showing someone that you notice them and you appreciate them, you can make their lives a little – or a lot – easier.
For more information about showing appreciation to a dementia caregiver, or if you’d like more information about our senior living community, contact our staff at The Bridges at Warwick.
You’ll find it all at The Bridges at Warwick, located in beautiful Bucks County, where everyday is a celebration of seniors. Our philosophy of “Celebrating Life” means that our residents enjoy a sense of purpose and contentment along with fun, personalized care and a focus on total well-being.
Our Personalized Supportive Care provides just the right amount of assistance to help you remain independent, along with life-enriching programs, services and amenities. Our exclusive Vista Transitional Living Program offers specialized programming our supportive care residents who have memory challenges but do not yet require a secure residence. For those whose memory loss is more advanced, we offer The Vista, our secure, comprehensive memory care residence.
In keeping with our founder Robert Basile’s personal philosophy, developed during his efforts to find quality senior living for his beloved father, senior adults remain our passion. We fill our residents’ lives with countless opportunities to engage with both new and treasured friends; events and programs to enjoy with family members and loved ones; as well as innovative and creative activities that foster engagement. Our dedication to total wellness – for mind, body and spirit – is woven into our culture every day.