Attitude of Gratitude: Grateful for Our Caregiver

Thanksgiving kicked off the holiday season and, as we batten down the hatches for yet another whirlwind period of feasting and folly, as part of our mission at Caregiverlist in “Caring for the Caregiver” we’d like to take this opportunity and thank those caring for those who cannot care for themselves. Here are some ways you can show your thanks during this holiday season:

Family Caregiver
The most prevalent of all caregivers, the family caregiver works tirelessly, perhaps at another job as well, to provide loving and caring home care for an elderly family member. Many times, the family caregiver will be overwhelmed, and the sometimes staggering responsibility makes it difficult for them to take time to care for themselves. This season is a good time to relieve some of the pressure and ask what they would like for you to do for them. Don’t just jump in and take over the caregiving — although that might be your first inclination — both the caregiver and the recipient of the care have a special bond and may prefer things handled a certain way. Perhaps the caregiver would appreciate if you could provide a meal or two, or come over to do a load of laundry. You can certainly offer respite time for the family caregiver to take care of personal needs, whether that be holiday shopping or just going out to gaze at the festive lights of the season.

Paid Home Caregiver
The bond between a home caregiver and senior is special because of it’s one-to-one nature. A dedicated in-home caregiver can be more like family to a senior than a paid helper. Give your sincere thanks to this person both verbally and with a thank you note, and maybe include a little holiday bonus cash or gift card. I think any amount would be appreciated. Caregiving is not an especially lucrative profession, many go into it because they enjoy making a difference in a senior’s quality of life.

Care in Assisted Living
The staff at an Assisted Living facility make life so much easier for you and your beloved senior. They might take care of laundry, light housekeeping, transportation, medical reminders and perhaps most importantly, provide access to activities. Many facilities have strict regulations prohibiting employees from accepting individual gifts. You can, however, provide something for the staff in the way of treats (sweet and savory -- think cookies, candy, fruit, bagel platters, coffee and tea for staff lounges ). Check to make sure there is a central area where staff can congregate. And although you must insist that no major individual gifts are given, a senior may say “thanks” with a gift from a candy box in their room or apartment.

Nursing Home Care
Just like an Assisted Living Facility, there are strict rules about giving gifts to Nursing Home employees, so the same rules apply. But because of the nature of round-the-clock and more significant level of care, there may be more staff and more shifts to think about treating. Also, skilled nurses and therapists may have separate breakrooms from those in support. This is where it pays to do a little investigating. Many nursing home facilities may set up a communal holiday fund to distribute equally among staff. Donations are kept anonymous and no one is compelled to contribute. This helps prevent the chance of a resident receiving special treatment due to monetary gifting. Also, if there is a special caregiver or two (or more) that you’d like to acknowledge — in both Nursing Home and Assisted Living facilities, send a note to the facility director or administrator. Many places rely on feedback such as this to administer bonuses, career advancements and special acknowledgements.

None of us are here to go it alone, especially as we grow older. Please join us at Caregiverlist and give special thanks to those who help care for the ones we love.

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