Whatever you’re thankful for this year – friends, family, elastic waistbands – you’re certainly going to be thankful for the continued health and safety of your senior loved ones and those who care for them every day. The holidays can be stressful for all of us, but they can be especially stressful for the family member responsible for your loved one’s care. Thanksgiving is the perfect reminder to say thank you.
“Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to get your whole family together to continue traditions and give thanks for everything you have,” says Jessica Smith, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Wildwood, a new Memory Care community in Wildwood, Florida. “But the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be extra challenging for those suffering from memory loss, which makes them extra challenging for their caregivers.”
In this post, we’ll share 7 effective and thoughtful ways to show your appreciation – this holiday season or anytime, in-person or from across the country – beyond traditional thank-you notes and gifts (though those are lovely, too).
1. Do Your Part to Reduce Caregiver Stress Prior to and During the Big Day
- Minimizing your loved one's anxiety and helping them feel safe can bring down stress levels in the whole house. Take on the task of learning about and informing other family members how to avoid your loved one’s triggers. If you don’t know, ask the person’s caregiver what their triggers are. Common anxiety-inducers for people with memory loss are confusion, discomfort, and environment. Think a loud group of angry-looking people shouting at a televised football game, multiple conversations buzzing together, or a sea of faces they don’t recognize (but have a feeling they should), and sensory overload. Also share dementia communication tips with your family.
- If your loved one’s caregiver is also the host or hostess with a million things to do, offer to divvy up the to-do list with other family members and/or come early to get your loved one ready and keep them occupied. Earlier in the week, you can involve your loved one in food preparation and decorating. Being part of the process can make people with memory loss feel more at ease during the main event. Remember: Your loved one’s sense of belonging, usefulness, and accomplishment is far more important than a perfectly shaped pie, painted pumpkin, or folded dinner napkin.
- Help your loved one with their dinner so their caregiver can relax, enjoy their hard work, and catch up with friends or relatives without interruption.
2. Offer your family member a day off for no reason. If you are willing and able to take over as your loved one’s caregiver for a day, an unexpected and well-deserved day off is a great way to thank your family member while also enjoying one-on-one time with your loved one.
3. Pay for regular housekeeping services. It’s a rare over-worked caregiver who will turn down housekeeping services. They’ll feel like royalty, and you’ll have successfully shown that you value the time and energy they spend caring for your loved one. Note: Research reputable cleaning services and allow the caregiver to interview and choose someone they are comfortable having in their home. If they resist, don’t insist.
4. Stock your loved one’s freezer. If you live locally, double your next few recipes and share half with your loved one and their caregiver. Not local? Consider buying them a meal delivery subscription. Popular with the millennial crowd, meal delivery services such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron make gourmet cooking hassle-free.
5. Have a heart-to-heart with your family member. Asking caregivers how they are doing – really doing – and specifically how you can help can go a long way to making them feel recognized and valued. Caregivers are often ignored when in the presence of those they care for. According to HelpGuide.org, caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients in particular tend to neglect their own welfare for the good of taking care of others. To provide the best care for your loved one, however, they need to be physically and emotionally cared for, too.
6. Treat them to a day of relaxation. Whether they would prefer a spa day or a day at the casino, give your loved one’s caregiver the ultimate dream day, financed by you…at least within reason. Live far away? Research adult day services or respite care in your loved one’s area and arrange alternative care.
7. Send a self-care package. This will vary greatly depending on the person, but you might consider soothing items such as recommendations for guided-meditation downloads, essential oils, candles, or a favorite candy or flavored gourmet coffee. Or perhaps they’d be more interested in a Netflix subscription or a good audiobook to enjoy in the car between errands. Add some personalized, encouraging notes with your self-care package that remind your family member of the positive impact they are having on your loved one’s health and happiness and that they are doing a good job.
Finding that extra-special way to say thanks isn’t always easy for the often-thankless work of a caregiver. The various ways to thank your caregivers outlined here can help you show your appreciation and reassure them of the value in your loved one’s life and in yours.
For more tips on giving thanks to your loved one’s caregivers, call our dementia care experts at YourLife™ of Wildwood today at 352-433-0942.
Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Wildwood provides the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. In fact, we were created with that one purpose in mind. Each day, we focus all our energy, attention and resources on creating an environment that caters to each resident’s personal needs, choices and individuality, while ensuring unequaled peace of mind and dedicated support for families.
At YourLife™ of Wildwood, we have the ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents, thanks to our sole focus on Memory Care. We understand that everyone has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that enhance and support each person’s independence while enriching their days. To ensure further peace of mind, our team of YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection.
With our signature YourStory programming, we not only personalize Memory Care, but we are able to create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and wellness programming to scheduled outings and other special events to personal care, assistance and multiple therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Wildwood, our residents and their families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!
Call us at 352-433-0942 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.