Celebrating Older Americans Month 2019: Connect, Create, Contribute

Each year, more and more older adults are making a positive impact in and around their community. Usually this contribution involves the encouragement and even logistics of a family caregiver.

Many older Americans who are family caregivers are themselves contributing to their community simply by caring for their own senior loved ones.

In addition, they act as volunteers, employees, employers, educators, mentors, advocates, and more which offers insight and experience that benefit the entire community.

That’s why Older Americans Month (OAM) has been recognizing the contributions of this growing population for 56 years when President John F. Kennedy designated May Older Americans Month.

At that time, the President felt it was time to begin to take the needs of the growing older American population. The goal was to recognize their many contributions to our country especially in defending it.

From then until now, led by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) each May, OAM provides resources to help older Americans stay healthy and independent as a way to thank them for their gifts to society. They help communities support and celebrate their diversity.

Theme for OAM 2019

This year’s OAM theme, Connect, Create, Contribute, encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
  • Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.

Family caregivers can celebrate OAM by promoting ways that community members of all ages can take part in helping older adults in their community as well as their own senior loved one thrive.

Things to Do In Your Community

There will be many events going on in your senior’s community that will help family caregivers connect, create and contribute.

Here are a few you may want to join:

  1. Participate in your local senior center activities by attending classes on crafts, cooking, lines dancing, yoga, or educational topic.
  2. Volunteer for an organization you support such as the library, animal shelter, school mentorship, litter cleanup or church group.
  3. Attend a health fair and take charge of your health.
  4. Share your skills with others in your community who may need help.
  5. Help a meal delivery program deliver meals to people in your local area.
  6. Join a fall prevention program to build your own strength and balance while meeting new people.
  7. Attend a Senior Day event in your city.
  8. Find a class on technology to help your senior learn about ways to use technology to benefit them as they age in place. Attend the class together.

We encourage you to:

Connect: Encourage older adults and other storytellers to share their experiences

Create: Inspire older adults to express themselves through art, dance, exercise, gardening or other personal enrichment activities.

Contribute: Connect older adults with resources and each other

Things to Do At Home

Family caregivers can take action with their senior loved ones to celebrate OAM with them and other family and friends.

Here are some fun things you can do together:

  • Have a family game night and play their favorites. Have lots of healthy snacks to keep the fun rolling!
  • Take a nature walk with the grandkids. Explore plants and animals in nature, go on a scavenger hunt, share a picnic and watch the birds fly together. Sharing this with kids will benefit all generations.
  • Look through family photo albums together and reminisce about family members who came before you. Discuss their jobs, their military service, where they lived and funny stories of shared hijinks! Maybe this could lead to a family reunion to meet new members and enjoy old members of the family.
  • Store the photos and memories for the future, journal the family stories and create a family tree.
  • Attend an event together. It could simply be the local Farmer’s Market or a fundraising event like a Fashion Show.

This is just a small start to all the places you could go and fun you can share with your senior loved one.

Time spent together is not only enriching for your relationship but also good for your senior’s health.

Physical activity and social engagement can make a positive impact on their quality of life.

These are all great reasons to find ways to celebrate OAM and your senior loved one today!

Additional Resources

Here are some additional articles that you might find helpful when deciding how to share time with our senior loved during OAM and every day.

Share, Learn, and Connect at National Caregiving Conference

We invited Denise M. Brown to author an article for Senior Care Corner® because we believe her conference is a valuable opportunity and resource for family caregivers. In addition, in the article she offers a number of resources family caregivers will find valuable sources of support now and in the future.

Denise began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. She’s the author of several books including The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey.

 

We often hear that we need to take regular breaks from our caregiving responsibilities. Often those suggested breaks include ideas for self-care which mostly focus on pampering.

Pampering is more than manicures and pedicures.

Our National Caregiving Conference feels like pampering for your heart and soul. When you join us at our conference, you join a community that understands you and that welcomes you.

Often during our caregiving experience we can feel disconnected, wondering where we belong because our lives feel so much different that our friends, co-workers and neighbors.

At our conference, you connect with others in a similar situation and with those who totally get it.

Connecting and Learning

Because you connect with those who understand, you can develop deep and meaningful relationships with other attendees.

Elizabeth Miller, who helps care for her mom and operates her own business, HappyHealthyCaregiver.com, returns to our conference every year to re-connect with friends she met at our first year conference. She also will present for the third straight year because she wants to share what she learned the hard way about self-care.

Sharon Hall, who cares for her husband and cared for her mom until her mom’s death in March, presents at our conference to share what she’s learned about her husband’s disease, frontotemporal degeneration. She knows how confusing the FTD behavior can be and wants others to know that they can manage the difficulties. If you care for a family member with FTD, networking with Sharon will provide a sense of relief that only someone who truly understands can give.

At our conference, we’re not just educating each other. Professionals and researchers attend to learn from us what caregiving is like. Last year, researchers from Purdue University and Johns Hopkins University attended our sessions to hear directly from family caregivers about their experiences.

We’re the experts in caregiving which is why health care professionals and researchers attend our National Caregiving Conference – to improve their work by receiving our expertise.

This Year’s Conference

This year’s conference, which will take place November 7-10 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, will honor our amazing difference to our family, our carees, our community and ourselves.

This year, we want to create an experience that leaves you feeling different, either about yourself, your caregiving experience or your future.

We also want you to return home with new relationships which continue to pamper your heart and soul until our next conference in 2020.

Caregiver Resources

We understand that attending our conference can present a financial hardship. Visit CareGiving.com regularly to learn about contests you can enter for a chance to win cash and free nights at our conference hotel. Each year, we’ve given away at least $4,000 to help family caregivers and former family caregivers attend our conference.

In addition, you can check out these organizations if you need to hire or have help for your caree so you can attend:

  • Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out about programs which help you get a break.
  • Call the Department of Veterans Affairs National Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.
  • Hospice offers a five-day respite benefit so the primary family caregiver can take a break.
  • Contact your local assisted living facilities and nursing homes to learn about short-term placement for your caree while you attend the conference.
  • Disease-specific organizations, like the Alzheimer’s Association and ALS Association, may offer respite programs.
  • Easter Seals offers programs for adults and children with disabilities.

If you cannot join us in Chicago, we hope you’ll watch our live, free broadcast of select conference sessions on November 8 and 9. As you watch our live broadcast, you’ll feel connected to a community that understands.

To learn more about our conference, please visit our conference webpage.

 

End of Life Decisions: Has Your Senior Loved One Made Them? Have You?

What kind of healthcare treatment would you and your senior loved ones want to be given at the end of your life — or would you want any at all?

End of life care is something about which most adults in the US have heard and maybe even considered — thanks in part to television shows — with many having also heard about living wills.

Most have not taken things past the “thinking about it” stage, however, to having serious conversations with family or actually doing something to ensure their wishes are honored.

Enter National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), an effort to educate and inspire individuals to formally express their wishes regarding healthcare and encourage healthcare providers and facilities to honor those wishes.

We thought this year’s NHDD would be a good time to revisit an episode of the Senior Care Corner® Radio Show from a few years ago, one in which we talk about NHDD and use it as a springboard to encourage family caregivers and their senior loved ones to have their own family healthcare decisions day.

Not only is it important for family caregivers to ensure senior loved ones express their wish, but the caregivers need to make their own end of live decisions.

Family Healthcare Decisions

First, I guess we should explain what we mean by the “healthcare decisions” families should discuss.

We’re talking about the type of care an individual wishes to receive — and the care she or he does not wish to receive — when potentially at the end of life, at a time when ongoing life depends on the measures performed.

Examples of these measures include receiving CPR, being placed on a ventilator, or being fed via a tube.

Why are we taking about this now?

Putting aside that we frequently talk about the need for living wills, advance directives, and the family conversations that help make those decisions, we want to get families planning to have these discussions when they gather from their scattered homes for family spring and summer events.

Listen to the feature segment in this episode for our discussion of family healthcare decision making, including reasons why it’s important and how families may approach the conversation.

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Preparing for the Family End of Life Care Discussion

Preparation can help families better face the elephant in the room and have a more successful discussion of end of life options.

  • Learn about what “advance directives” means. We don’t just mean the term but, more importantly, the implications for those making and formalizing the decisions, as well as their family members.
  • Research what is required in your state, or states for dispersed family members, and which decisions are covered.
  • Gain an understanding of various means of life support to give a better understanding of what is involved with the decisions to be made.
  • Consider consulting an elderlaw attorney or other legal reference source to determine what the necessary forms look like, what information is needed to complete them, and the steps to take to ensure they are enforceable.

Catch the full discussion in this episode of the Senior Care Corner Radio Show.

Additional Healthcare Decisions Resources

We hope you like this trip back to a prior episode of the Senior Care Corner Show and find it helpful to you and your family. We have also prepared this transcript – so you can follow along with the recording or read it at your convenience.

 




Easter Baskets for Seniors Full of Special Treats & Memories

Springtime again! Many trees are sporting flowers and others have leaves busting out.

It’s time to gather together our woven baskets and multi-colored plastic straw hay!

For many seniors it means the grandkids are coming to search for goodies to celebrate spring on Easter Sunday, whether it’s celebrated as a religious holiday or simply happiness that the seasons are changing (and maybe a few days off from school).

We love to hide brightly colored eggs with hidden surprises inside for the children. The love to find a coin, a chocolate treat, a marshmallow peep, or the golden ticket!

Memories of Easters Past

Even adults enjoy treats, surprises, and special goodies from time to time – particularly on days that hold fond memories, such as Easter. Special treats can bring back cherished memories of childhood, some adulthood holidays, and the special people with whom they shared the day.

They might remember getting all dressed up in their finest bib and tucker or getting a new outfit – or special hat – for the special day.

Many will never forget the white patent leather Mary Jane shoes they would wear for the day and then not again until summer, at least until after Memorial Day!

Senior Easter Basket Wishes

What do you get for your senior loved ones’ Easter basket? You know them best, of course, but here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • A new hat (maybe one you pick together) or perhaps take an older hat and add embellishments onto together as a multi-generational project)
  • A new piece of jewelry, such as a beaded necklace or brooch (something they could wear to church or family gatherings and show off)
  • A new floral perfume (reminiscent of a bygone scent or a favorite flower in the garden would be especially nice)
  • A family photo (perhaps a recent one of the grandkids or an older version with those no longer with us)
  • Chocolate bunny candy or cream filled eggs (my family loved maple candy that was a special and rare treat)
  • An Easter lily (this is a tradition I remember from my earliest childhood, we never went to grandma’s house without a lily!)
  • A handmade card (one made by the kids with messages of endearment or glued on macaroni)
  • Jelly beans (the quintessential Easter treat — who could forget or resist!)
  • Coupons (ones from their favorite restaurant, local business, grocery item or handmade for unique gifts like washing the windows or polishing the silver)
  • Personal items they might find useful, like hearing aid batteries, glass cleaning cloth, denture paste, a favorite skin lotion, new nail polish or lipstick, lip balm, aftershave, a backscratcher, nail file, sunscreen or any item that shows you are paying attention to what they need and those things they like.

Make the Basket Personal

The key running through the ideas above is that the contents of the basket for your senior should have personal meaning to them rather than being one of the ready-made packages we see all over the stores.

We are sure you can think of other things that might make special gifts, such as a new sweater or lightweight jacket, a book, slippers, or other items.

Think how much fun it would be to put these smaller items into a pretty new wicker basket with a big pastel bow and remind your senior of how it felt to be young waiting for the Easter bunny!

Enjoy your family moments and reminiscing about fun times in years past. After all, those memories can be the most special treats of all!

 

 




Survey Closer Look — Insights on Tech from Seniors Who Are Caregivers

As we often hear and read, the senior (65+) population is growing rapidly, more so than any other age group.

What you may not realize is that the number of senior family caregivers is also rising rapidly.

One in five adult caregivers, or more than 8 million in all, are seniors, according to the 2015 report Caregiving in the US from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Yet we seldom — if ever — see any research that considers the needs of older caregivers.

Even a recent report from the Consumer Technology Association, which we feel has been making real strides in consideration of older adults in their research, capped the age on the “caregivers” segment of their study at 64.

Given all of this, it was particularly gratifying to us that half of the responses to our recent technology survey were from seniors who consider themselves to be caregivers.

We feel the insights from and needs of these senior caregivers are important enough to merit a closer look on their own.

What the Survey Is — and Isn’t

This survey was conducted to provide us insight into our readership for purposes of planning our future technology coverage. As such, we make no claims that it is a statistically valid sampling of family caregivers — or even of those who visit Senior Care Corner®.

It is, though, an indication of the opinions of those in our audience who were kind enough to take the time to tell us what they think.

That is important to us and very much appreciated.

We also understand and will take into account that those who responded to the survey — and those who visit Senior Care Corner overall — are already, at a minimum, using the technology needed to connect to the web and may be more attuned to tech than other older adults and family caregivers.

Now that we have an understanding, onto the results of the survey.

The following survey results reflect those respondents who were 65+ and identified as family caregivers.

Question 3: Respondents Level of Tech Use

We were somewhat surprised to see just over half of the senior caregivers consider themselves to be avid users of digital technology, slightly more than the younger survey respondents.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, since tech users may have been more likely to respond to our online survey, but it is inconsistent with the widely held perception seniors and tech are not a good mix.

Then again, we have been saying for a while that perception is wrong.

Question 4: Respondents Role with Technology

As the chart below reflects, the senior caregiver survey respondents reflect a broad range of experience and roles with technology in their homes.

Just about half of those responding indicated they are the primary purchasers and implementers of technology in their own homes, as well as the troubleshooters, with a fair number indicating they have the same role in the homes of others.

The flip side is that about half of the respondents rely on someone else to take the lead on technology in their homes.

These responses tell us we have to keep in mind the full range of roles in our technology reporting.

Question 5: Areas of Concern with Technology

With 2 of 5 senior caregivers listing it, in line with respondents overall, data privacy is clearly the greatest technology concern. There is good reason for that, of course, but security concerns do not seem to have deterred them from using tech.

Interestingly, these caregivers are a third less likely to say technology costs too much than are younger respondents. They are also less than half as likely to feel tech is too complicated.

Given their responses, including the 1 in 4 who have no concerns, senior caregivers should be on the radar of tech companies.

This is not to ignore the data privacy issue, which we all share. We plan to respond to the survey feedback by providing more information on safe and secure use of digital technology.

Question 6: Respondents’ Technology Interest Areas

While senior caregivers expressed interest in learning more about the full range of technologies in the survey, their interests were clearly focused in the areas of smartphones and tablets, home health devices, and home security. These are the areas that are currently the most developed of the tech areas and provide readily-identifiable benefits to both senior caregivers and those for whom they care.

Given that senior caregivers express receptivity to using tech overall, it may be they will need only to see a demonstration of the benefits of other technologies for their interest to rise. We will continue reporting on these areas to give them a chance to decide for themselves.

Question 7: Respondents’ Learning Preferences

This question was very important to us in planning our future delivery of information on Senior Care Corner, as we want to present information in a way that is preferred by our audience and therefore most beneficial to them.

Senior caregivers expressed clear preferences for information communicated in written articles and video. According to these responses, our podcast was not the best way to reach this older group.

The senior caregivers’ preference for articles and videos is consistent with what younger respondents told us, while the seniors’ interest in podcasts and webinars was much lower.

What We Learned from Senior Caregivers

While we are keeping in mind the survey is not scientific, we can’t help but be excited about the responses from the senior caregivers.

Clearly there are many in this group who are both users of technology and interested in learning more. We plan on continuing to feed their interest with our tech coverage with practical insights that will provide benefits for both them and those for whom they care.

Also in mind is the reality there are likely other senior caregivers who did not respond and whose need to see technology’s benefits may be even greater. Hopefully we will get their feedback over time.

We hope the positive response to technology of senior caregivers is also being noticed by the tech companies, which will hopefully be further motivated to develop solutions to the problems of this group and demonstrate the benefits of those solutions.

Senior Care Corner looks forward to learning about those solutions and keeping you up to date!

Could You Be Family Caregiver But Not Realize It?

Are you a family caregiver to a senior friend, neighbor, or loved one?

Many of you who are caregivers would answer that question “no,” not realizing you truly are.

It’s not a label of which one should be afraid or embarrassed to be given, but a reason to be proud.

You are one of the millions of Americans providing care — whether hands-on, ‘just’ helping, or while living a distance away — to loved ones, a group that contributes billions in services to the US economy with payment beyond knowing we are helping someone we love have a better life – – and a “thank you” now and then.

Most important, though, you are THE one for the loved one to whom you are providing care.

Importance of Knowing You’re a Caregiver

Why, you may ask, does it matter if you think of yourself as a family caregiver if you are filling that role for someone?

It really comes down to realizing the impact providing care can have on YOU.

Family caregivers often set aside their own needs while focused on the needs of those for whom they care. Those who don’t see themselves as family caregivers fail to recognize the need to care for their own needs as well as those of others.

While helping your loved one get to their doctor appointments, for example, you might ignore making one you need for yourself because there is not time to do it all.

While helping them get the good meals and rest they need to stay healthy, you might be overlooking those same needs of your own, endangering your own health and ability to provide them the level of care you want to provide.

We Care About the Caregivers, Too

We realize it is important to remind family caregivers to make time to care for themselves, which many simply do not do enough of the time. For some, it may mean reaching out to others for support, which is difficult for many of us to do.

First, though, family caregivers have to identify themselves as such.

Our effort to find creative ways to help more family caregivers realize they are filling that role and get the support they need led us to record the “You Might Be a Family Caregiver” feature film short YouTube video below, a respectful adaptation of Jeff Foxworthy’s signature routine.

The video is, we hope, a cute way to let you know there are many things you can do for senior loved ones that would make you a family caregiver. We know we’ve just scratched the surface so hope you’ll take a look at the video and let us know what additional items we might have listed.

We hope you’ll share the video with those you know who are family caregivers and may not realize it so they understand their needs are important too.

We hope you enjoy the video and find it insightful. We’re looking forward to your feedback!

Recipe for a Happy Family Caregiver Holiday

As family caregivers, our love and devotion to our senior loved ones shows through in our actions every day.

As we complete each of our caregiving activities day in and day out, we show our commitment to improving our loved ones’ quality of life.

Yes, our caring shows.

We may be driving to the doctor, doing the laundry, cooking a meal, or giving a bath to our senior — maybe just doing it all from soup to nuts!

We may be the glue that helps hold our loved ones’ lives together.

It is during the holidays that we can take a step back and bask in the glow of the knowledge that what we do is making a difference!

We are special!

During the holidays we get the opportunity to reconnect with other family members, share the load a little and hopefully take a much needed break.

Special Recipe for Your Holiday Together

seniors grandchildren holiday

As we head into the thick of this year’s holiday season, we would like to share with you a little reminder of the importance of our families and making memories every step of the way, while remembering the bygone times.

We can use the season to bring some joy into our senior loved ones’ lives through memories and reminiscing activities.

As we get caught up in planning everything we need to do — all the shopping, cooking, visiting, caregiving and the rest that is on the agenda — we found one more recipe for you.

This is not something to cook but a reminder to cook up the holiday that we want and for which we often wish.

Recipe for a Happy Holiday

(author unknown)

4 cups of good memories
2 Tablespoons of JOY
1 cup of relaxation
3 Teaspoons of anticipation
A dash of faith
2 ½ cups of “jolly” beans
A splash of eggnog
1 Barrel of good cheer
An assortment of good friends & loving family

Preparation:
  1. seniors family christmasTake good memories and joy, mix thoroughly
  2. Add relaxation
  3. Blend anticipation and faith
  4. Fold in “jolly” beans and eggnog
  5. Sprinkle abundantly with good cheer
  6. Garnish with friends and family
  7. Bake with love

Serving size: Makes enough to last the whole year!

Senior Care Corner® wishes you all the best memories, love and serenity this holiday season!

Give Grandma the Gift of (Safe) Social Media This Christmas

The signs are hard to miss, even though they are showing up even earlier this year: stores of all kinds displaying holiday decorations, holiday sales ads on TV, and Santa taking children’s wishes in many malls.

Yes, it’s time again to wrack our brains on that annual question: “what do we give our grandparents and parents for Christmas” this year?

We try so hard to come up with something that is both appreciated by them (yes, they say everything we give them is appreciated, but…) and useful to them — and usually end up feeling like we have fallen short.

Senior Care Corner® suggests giving the Gift of Social Media this year.

The Gift of Social Media for Grandma (or Grandpa, Mom, or Dad) is one of those rare gifts that truly keeps on giving year-round to both the recipients and givers of the gift.

We have seen recent studies indicating as many as half of seniors use social networking sites, the most with Facebook and YouTube, which still leaves a lot more candidates. Even among that half, though, it is likely many are worried about using social media due to security breaches, when safe practices can reassure them.

Why Social Media as a Gift?

As we have discussed in prior posts, there are many benefits to seniors of being active on social networks, whether Facebook (by far the most accessed), YouTube, Instagram, or one of many others.

  • Keeping families close, making it possible for many seniors to chat and keep up with their children, grandchildren, siblings, and extended family.
  • Photo and video sharing, with social networks making it quicker and easier than ever to share pictures and movies with loved ones and friends.
  • Community Belonging, giving seniors the ability to socialize and stay abreast of current events from the comfort of home.
  • Peace of Mind, keeping the growing number of seniors preferring or needing to live in their homes a convenient way to check-in regularly with loved ones and healthcare providers.
  • Coupons and other Discounts, linking seniors to the online offerings of retailers and service providers.
  • Brain and memory exercise, helping to keep seniors’ brains young.

Helping loved ones understand the benefits they can expect is likely to encourage the effort needed to create a social networking habit.

Social Media Safety is Crucial

Safe use of social media sites has always been important, but never more so than today, with all the stories we hear of breaches and the fear it has created in many users.

There are a number of keys to helping senior loved ones use social networking sites safely — and feel safe doing so.

  1. Establish safe passwords that can’t be guessed from information about your senior that is publicly available. You may suggest they give a couple of trusted individuals their password so it can be retrieved easily if forgotten. Help them change it periodically as well.
  2. Provide the social networking sites the minimum personal information needed in order to use the site. When the seemingly inevitable data breach occurs, the less information included the better.
  3. Limit access to posts appropriately. Utilize the social network’s settings to ensure information posted is only seen by desired audiences.
  4. Post with caution on the sites. Don’t include such things as personal information that may be used to steal an identity, private health information, provide financial data, or divulge when nobody is going to be home at your senior’s house.
  5. Click with caution, avoiding any links in social media posts (just as with email) that are not absolutely trusted and do not respond to requests for information unless certain they are from a trusted friend or family member. A bank, insurance company, or the IRS will not request private information through social media posts.

Remember, social media safety is not a “set it and forget it” act, but a continuing process. It must be practiced each day and even updated as social network settings change, which they seem to do all too frequently.

Giving the Gift of Social Media

Giving the Gift of Social Media is more than signing up your senior loved ones for Facebook or showing them how to access YouTube videos and can be part of a truly memorable family experience.

  • Arranging online access, where needed, often through cable TV or home phone companies or a cell phone provider.
  • Choosing the right device(s) for your loved one. Popular options include computers, tablets and smartphones. Some devices are targeted to seniors and their specific needs.
  • Setting up access to desired social networks. It might be beneficial to survey family members and check around with your senior’s outside interests to see which networks would be most valuable.
  • Establishing privacy settings and practices (very important!).
  • Communicating with loved ones on a regular basis to form and keep the habit, not to mention staying close to them.

The Gift of Social Media is truly a gift for the entire family.

We hope you’ll join us in promoting the Gift of Social Media and consider giving the gift to the senior loved ones in your life!

 

 




Giving Thanks to Family Caregivers and Those Who Support Their Efforts

Successful family caregivers provide for the needs of their loved ones while finding a way to navigate their own busy day and complete 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, avoiding 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 those who assist you feel 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 when care needs are that significant.

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 senior’s healthcare team that you can call upon anytime it is 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 longtime 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 so it doesn’t appear overnight. You might like to read our article 10 Steps for Caregivers to Build a Strong and Effective Network if you’re not sure how to do it.

Time of Giving Thanks

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, 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.

Showing Appreciation

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!

  1. 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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. Give them their favorite book and add a short note in the book jacket to express your appreciation.
  5. Give them a massage coupon to a local masseuse.
  6. 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!
  7. Homemade cookies, dessert, soup, casserole or something special made with love!
  8. 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.
  9. Give them a CD of their favorite music. Perhaps a holiday collection, a comedy tape or church hymns.  Whatever will inspire them through song.
  10. 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, pharmacy, or our own store, The Shop at Senior Care Corner®, 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

 

 

 

Amazon Best Sellers in Caregiver Gifts

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