Thank the Caregivers This Holiday Season

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Recently while enjoying a great band performing at a pub, I noticed the lead singer continually reminding the audience “don’t forget to take care of your servers.”  He emphasized it so many times that it would have been nearly impossible to forget to leave those bringing food and beverage a great tip!  Of course gratuity in such a setting is the best way to say thank you.

I’m guessing many of you are familiar with the above scene.  But how many have heard someone recently say “don’t forget to take care of your caregivers?”  Probably not as often.  So this Thanksgiving season, I want to urge you to thank the caregivers you know.

Everyone knows someone who is taking care of an older person with health or disability issues. While expressing gratitude to someone makes the recipient getting the thanks feel good, there are many studies indicating that showing appreciation benefits your physical and mental health too.  This Thanksgiving season, here are some ideas of how to thank the caregivers in your life:

1. Thank the caregivers you pay. If your older loved one resides in a senior living community like a nursing home or assisted living, remember that the staff there hear many more complaints than accolades.  While cash tips are typically not permitted in such settings, know that a simple kind word may mean even more to them.  Just saying “thank you” or “I see how much you do for my husband” can provide tremendous motivation for administrators and hands-on caregivers alike.  This concept also applies to staff at home care agencies.  Even better if you can take a few minutes to write a brief note or e-mail to thank the caregivers who are employees.

2. Recognize even those whose contribution is small. If you are the primary caregiver doing most of the work caring for an older or disabled loved one, you deserve the most thanks! But don’t forget to acknowledge those who are doing small favors for you.  Even if others in your family are not doing nearly as much as you are, expressing gratitude for the small ways they are helping will make them feel good and encourage them to continue contributing.

3. Thank the caregivers who do the most. If you are a secondary caregiver who knows that your sister is doing far more for your mother than you are, acknowledge it this Thanksgiving season!  Care for an older loved one is almost never distributed evenly within a family.  If you can do more, do it.  But even if you can’t, just letting the primary caregivers in the family know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed will mean the world to them.

Thank the caregivers in your life this Thanksgiving and throughout this holiday season.  Enjoy the positive impact it will have on you, your older loved one and the caregiver.

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