When I was a teenager, my mom's parents moved next-door. It was more an act of prevention than cure: my grandparents weren't in poor health or mentally incapable of caring for themselves.
But as the years progressed, they needed more and more help. My mom began to read books about care-giving. She began to look a little more worn and stressed.
I watched this all quietly, trying to discern how to help and when to step in.
Being a caregiver is a taxing responsibility, taxing people both physically and emotionally. But it can also be incredibly rewarding.
November is National Family Caregivers' Month, and we all have an opportunity to make the most of it by appreciating those who do the difficult task of being responsible for another's welfare.
Here are a few ways to say thank you:
-Give them time off. Whether it's just one evening or a whole week, caregivers need time away.
-Give them a "me basket." Things like a bottle of bubble bath soap, fuzzy socks, a movie, and hot chocolate mix will mean the world to them. These people who spend so much of their lives focusing on others just need someone to remind them that they also need to be taking care of themselves.
-Do them an act of service. It can be as simple as making them supper and as complicated as doing their landscaping. They're spending so much time caring for others that odds are good they haven't had the chance to get at their own responsibilities.
-Give them a hug and a thank you. Sometimes it's the little things that make them feel appreciated.
-Talk to them about other things. They spend enough time thinking and talking about those they care for. Ask them about other things.
-Be understanding about the challenges they face, even if their different from yours. It might be hard to wrap your mind around everything they struggle with, but try to see the world through their eyes.
There are so many ways to show caregivers our appreciation, but the important thing is not how we appreciate them but that we appreciate them.
Let's show them some love this month!