20 Things You Can Do to Honor and Celebrate the Caregivers in Your Life
We all know at least one person who is caring for a family member or friend. They may be providing transportation, going to doctor appointments, checking in and socializing, doing house or yardwork, managing finances, or providing personal care. The range of caregiving activities varies widely, but all caregivers have one thing in common: they frequently feel unappreciated, alone and invisible.
You can make a difference for a family caregiver by letting them know you are aware of what they are doing, you appreciate them, and they are valuable. Here are some ideas that can help ease their load, renew them, and lift them up so they can keep going.
- Provide or pay for respite care to make it possible for them to take care of themselves and/or enjoy many of the other items on this list.
- Send a greeting card thanking them and saying how much you appreciate and value them. Better yet, send a card every month!
- Take them to lunch or dinner at their favorite restaurant.
- Provide a meal for them and/or their loved ones at home. You could make a meal and bring it, order delivery from a restaurant, or try a home chef delivery program. Rather than asking them if they need it, tell them you’re bringing the meal on a certain night and ask if that will be convenient. Be sure to check for any special dietary needs.
- Do online research for them regarding their loved ones’ health conditions, treatments, medical equipment, or other needs.
- Do yard work they struggle with or don’t have time for.
- Organize things at their home or their loved ones’ homes, including medical supplies, closets, clothing, or other household items. This can ease their stress, and it’s likely something they want to do but just don’t have time. If they won’t let you do it on your own, then offer to do it together; it will go twice as fast with an extra set of hands.
- Clean their house or their loved ones’ house (or pay someone else to do so). There is nothing like a clean house to lift the spirits!
- Send or bring them flowers. Fresh flowers in the home on a regular basis can brighten the day and bring joy.
- Buy them a good cup of coffee or tea. And enjoy it with them if possible. (A gift card for multiple cups of coffee/tea is the gift that keeps giving!)
- Listen non-judgmentally. Family caregivers need to vent, laugh, cry, and share their stories. It helps us process the emotions and challenges.
- Send text messages every day to let them know you’re thinking of them. A fun video, graphic or emoji that makes them laugh is a bonus!
- Run errands for them. Pick up a prescription or groceries, return items…whatever they need.
- Plan a vacation for them. Even if they are able to take a vacation, and they have backup care, it’s difficult for a caregiver to find the time to research the options, make reservations, and plan the logistics.
- Plan a celebration for their loved ones. When my parents celebrated their 60th Anniversary, I was too overwhelmed with caregiving and work, so my friend helped me plan and implement a wonderful family gathering for them. It was such a gift!
- Register them for a class and go with them. Whether it is a creative arts class, exercise class, or caregiving training, get the information, ask them if they want to go and register them (pay for it if you need to), pick them up and take them and enjoy it with them. If it’s on the calendar and you help them make arrangements, they are much more likely to go.
- Provide positive reinforcement. Tell them frequently what a great job they are doing as they care for loved ones. Be specific. Point out their triumphs, even when things seem difficult. Celebrate their resilience.
- Nominate them for an award. Some local or national organizations recognize people who are doing outstanding work in their communities.
- Give them a gift certificate for a massage. Then make sure they use by offering to check their calendar, make the appointment, and even drive them to it. (Remember to arrange for back up care if needed.)
- Offer to do their holiday shopping, decorating, baking, greeting cards and anything else they don’t have time for that will help them feel festive.
Amy Goyer is a caregiving expert and author of Juggling Life, Work, and Caregiving. A passionate champion for caregivers, she has also been one her entire adult life, caring for her grandparents, parents, sister, and others. Connect with Amy on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.