Greetings one and all… It’s hard to believe that we are knee-deep in November! The year is flying by. Before any more time elapses, let’s take a deep breath today and embrace the opportunity to celebrate family caregivers. As you may know, November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to see, to hear, and to celebrate family caregivers in our lives.
Having been a caregiver numerous times for family, friends, and pets, I have the utmost respect for family caregivers. Although I believe caring for another person or beloved pet is one of the most sacred experiences in this life, I also know it is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. Being a family caregiver requires everything we have to give—and then some! Consequently, it serves no purpose to ignore the physical, emotional, psychosocial, financial, and/or spiritual challenges of caregiving. Instead, we are better served to be realistic when answering the call to care so as to be well-prepared for the journey.
At some point in time, we’ll all be called to care. This is a common concern. A common cause. Common ground. Therefore, how can we support each other in our respective journeys of caregiving? Well, I just happen to have a few suggestions on the tip of my tongue!
Today, look around and recognize the caregivers in your world – at home, in your neighborhood, at work, and in your community. Who do they care for? Children? Aging parents? Friends or family with serious medical issues? Aging or ill pets? After identifying those who care, learn to recognize when:
- Caregivers need some help but are reluctant to ask
- Caregivers need a break but lack respite resources
- Caregivers are compromising their own health and well-being in the process of caring for others
- Caregivers withdraw and become socially isolated
- It’s time to lend a helping hand and care for the caregiver
LISTEN to Caregivers
The art of listening is not practiced often enough in our society today. Perhaps a reflection of the hectic pace of life these days. In order to truly hear, an investment of time, attention, and intention is required. However, listening is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer – a gift many caregivers long to receive. There is nothing better than being with someone who is willing to listen when you need to share what is on your heart and mind. So, offer to listen to the caregivers in your life and:
- Hear what is said AND what is not
- Resist the temptation to FIX the situation
- Serve as a non-anxious presence
- Listen without judgment
- Listen with your heart and soul
Celebrate and Appreciate Family Caregivers
I learned many years ago when working in corporate America that the best way to motivate a person was to recognize the contributions of that person and then express appreciation for their efforts. Quite simply, I thanked the person for a job well done! In fact, a colleague reflected that my sincere “thank you” was more motivating than financial compensation. Being seen, heard, and appreciated enhances our sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and personal commitment to the task at hand. So, consider the caregivers in your world and choose to:
- Express concern for the caregiver’s well-being – “How are YOU today?”
- Offer specific (instead of generalized) thanks – “Thanks for taking Mom to the doctor today.”
- Recognize the reality of the situation – “I know this is hard. How can I help?”
- Celebrate a job well done – “You did a fabulous job coordinating Dad’s care after his surgery. Thank you!”
This month and every month, we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to see, to hear, and to celebrate the family caregivers among us. Family caregivers make a profound difference in the world. By celebrating family caregivers, perhaps we can make a difference in their lives as well. Take good care and enjoy the moment. Blessings on your journey……jane
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