“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.”
At Greenlawn Funeral Home, all of our care team members understand the importance of caregiving. Taking on the role of caregiver can be rewarding while also being a huge sacrifice of time and energy. Frequently, when our family member’s health starts to decline, it only makes sense to step in and help where you can. Sometimes this can be done in small increments of your time through helping to manage their bills, setting up their medications, or even doing household chores. But depending on the situation, progression of health concerns, or decline in their wellness, other actions might be more pressing and require more of someone.
Despite the increase in a family member’s needs and what it takes to assist them as a caregiver, loved ones know that doing so provides more comfort for the dependent. It can also extend their life expectancy, knowing they have a close, trusted source to help with new challenges. In some cases, they might even be able to stay in their own home with supervision or frequent visits from their caregiver.
That’s not to say that being a caregiver is an easy decision, encompasses a lot of patience, and impacts the caregiver and their own home life. Especially with the additional stressors of the pandemic, caregivers have to weigh their decision and may have to make adjustments to their work schedule, parenting responsibilities, take time away from their spouse, and spend more time traveling back and forth.
In addition, caregivers have to learn new skills quickly, manage doctors’ appointments, be okay with multitasking, formulate answers to loved one’s questions, and practice self-care to process that their loved one is aging and experiencing health declines. As such, being a caregiver can and will take a general toll on someone’s life over time.
At Greenlawn Funeral Home, we understand this toll and cheer on those who have stepped into a caregiver role. That is why this March, we want to highlight Caregiver Appreciation Day and discuss six tips for supporting the caregiver in your life. We encourage you to share and spread these tips with others in Springfield, Branson, and Bolivar to support caregivers collectively. Though they may not always ask for help, most caregivers appreciate it, as caregiving is no easy task.
1) Ask them what they need.
Before showing up at a caregiver’s door, ask them what they need or how you can help. As someone who prioritizes another’s needs over their own, a caregiver may struggle to come up with an answer to the question: “How can I help you?” Send them a text or leave a message saying you’d like to help them out but aren’t quite sure how. This lets them consider what they need and then articulate it to you on their own time. You can also give them choices, such as selecting meals you can prepare or gift cards to various restaurants.
2) Send them a self-care item.
An unexpected gift helps a caregiver feel appreciated and seen, especially if it’s a self-care item explicitly designed for their use, like a bar of scented soap or a decorative candle. A gift doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. A caregiver will likely welcome anything given with intention and gratitude.
3) Practice active listening.
Listening is the most straightforward tip on our list, but it might be the hardest to practice. Try to catch a caregiver in a moment of downtime (even if this is tricky!) and ask them how they’re doing. Then really listen to what they say. Sometimes just being able to say this is hard can provide relief and remind them that they are not alone at that moment.
4) Do little things for them when you can.
For full-time caregivers, it can be tough to find the time to get simple household chores accomplished. If you’re already out running errands like getting groceries, give them a call to see if they need anything from the store. On laundry day, offer to pick up a load for them and return it clean later in the day.
5) Write them a thank you note.
A heartfelt, handwritten thank you note is a simple way to acknowledge that you care. Even if you can’t take the time to write out a note, a thank you text goes a long way too! Write about their caregiver characteristics, talk about what you see them doing, or remind them of a happy memory that involves them and you.
6) Join them during their errands.
Being a full-time caregiver is a difficult job that can be physically and emotionally taxing. While you might not be able to lessen their load, at least you can join them doing errands and be there as a light of hope and encouragement.