Successful family caregivers provide for the needs of their loved ones while finding a way to navigate their busy day and end it with a sense of fulfillment.
They don’t do it alone, but lean on the support of a broad network to make their successful day happen smoothly.
But just what does that mean and how can you do it too?
Family caregivers who can end their day saying it was a job well done, no major chaos happened, and who feel as though they accomplished a good part of their to-do list may well have gotten some assistance from someone in their network.
Caregivers Need the Help of Others
Having a broad network is a key component to being a successful family caregiver without feeling constant stress or being at risk for burnout.
To keep your network happy and supportive, it is important to show them your appreciation regularly.
When helpers feel that their efforts were noticed and appreciated, they will want to stay involved.
Showing gratitude does not only improve the well-being of the person who receives the thanks but also the person who is giving thanks.
Caregivers will find that when they give praise to people in their caregiving network, they will feel happier too.
Who In Your Network Will You Thank?
Our caregiving networks can be rich with a wide assortment of helpers and supporters or maybe just a small number of caring people.
The depth of your network will depend on your situation and the scope of needs that have to be met.
The longer we are family caregivers the more likely we are providing around-the-clock care, meeting many needs for our senior loved ones.
It is especially important to have a large network at this stage.
Who might you have in your network, supporting you as a family caregiver?
- Hopefully your network will include family members, such as children or siblings, of you and your senior loved one.
- You should have someone from your healthcare team that you can call upon if needed.
- Home helpers, paid caregivers, community agencies that can support your needs, transportation assistance, and even local delivery people to bring you what you need.
- Emotional supporters should be at the ready for you, to lend an ear or a shoulder on which to cry. That might be a family member, close friend or a faith provider.
- You should have someone who can sit with your senior loved one, such as a companion (paid or volunteer), so that you can go to the doctor yourself, get your hair done or just have lunch with a friend.
- Your network should include people who can provide socialization to your senior loved one, such as old friends, clubs, respite programs or children.
- You should have a responsible party or parties available to you, either from an organization or a paid group, who can give you respite for a weekend or longer so you can take a much needed break.
- You should also seek out support groups that can give you not only emotional support and friendship but knowledge about what you face as a caregiver.
It takes time to build a network, it doesn’t appear overnight. You might like to read our article about building a network if you’re not sure how to do it.
Time of Thanksgiving
Once you have your network functioning, you will realize just how important these people are in your life — and what they mean to the care you provide your senior loved one. How many times you will call upon them even if only just to have a ‘real conversation’ some days. They will be invaluable to you in one way or another throughout the year.
This time of the year is a great time to tell them exactly how important they are to you.
A thank you will cement your relationship and may make the difference in how appreciated they feel so that they will continue to support you whenever needed in the future.
We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that even though we think about how special the people in your network are to your caregiving life, we don’t always say it out loud.
During this season of Thanksgiving, you might want to take the opportunity to express your thanks to these special people.
You probably already have thoughts about how you would like to say thanks to your loved ones, but just in case you need some inspiration, here are some tips about new ways to give your gratitude!
- Write a note. You can always get a special occasion card that will say thanks for you but add a personal note telling them about some special things that they do for you that touches your heart or just gets you through some days. Everyone would love to receive a personal, handwritten message that shows how much you care.
- Purchase a gift certificate to include in your card. A movie or dinner gift card or a gift certificate to their favorite place such as a coffee shop. You can usually pick this up at the grocery or drug store which you visit every week so doesn’t require a special trip. You can get a gift card when you go to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions.
- Make a gift basket. It need not be big, but include a few small items including bath salts, hand sanitizer, calming tea, hot cocoa, sachets, candy, or any items that are there favorites that will combine to give them a pick me up or a quick rest!
- Give them their favorite book and add a short note in the book jacket to express your appreciation.
- Give them a massage coupon to a local masseuse.
- Make them a movie gift basket including a a special DVD, popcorn (maybe a fun flavored variety), box of candy and other treats for a fun night in!
- Homemade cookies, dessert, soup, casserole or something special made with love!
- If you are crafty, make something that evokes a memory, such as a picture frame with favorite photo, a knit scarf, a bookmark, or some other item from your home to theirs. Perhaps you could even make a holiday ornament for the tree! If you like to do something fun, you could make some hand scrolled mugs filled with calming tea like I have done in the photo at the top of the post.
- Give them a CD of their favorite music. Perhaps a holiday collection, a comedy tape or church hymns. Whatever will inspire them through song.
- Find an appropriate piece of jewelry that has meaning such as guardian angel pin, a car angel ornament, or a bracelet. It doesn’t have to be expensive just picked with love.
You might be thinking, “those are all things I wish someone would give to me”! That is exactly the point.
If you would like receiving it, and would feel appreciated if it were given to you, then you are on the right track!
You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or money finding these items either. You can get most of these things easily either at the grocery or drug store or even online at our bookstore where we have a selection of items for caregivers. You might even find something to give yourself!
Your love will show through in any gift your choose!
Feeling gratitude & not expressing it is like wrapping a present & not giving it.
~~William Arthur Ward