While Thanksgiving is treasured as a time of family togetherness, the hustle and bustle of the holiday — preparing the meal, inviting family and friends, and preparing the home and setting — is a stressful affair unto itself.
This stress is felt even more acutely by the family caregiver in your life. With the demands of caregiving at the forefront of their mind, the thought of a large get together with several guests can seem simply overwhelming."Lending your ear and heart to the family caregiver in your life might be exactly what they need."
During this holiday of togetherness and grateful reflection, as a friend or family member of a family caregiver, there are several ways you can communicate love and lend your support to them during this cherished, albeit sometimes stressful, holiday.
1. Offer to Host or Help Prepare the Home
Being a family caregiver isn’t easy, and the role of caregiver is one that quickly consumes much of a person’s life. With providing care being the primary focus at all times, tasks such as household chores become less important as time and energy are at a premium when caring for a terminally ill family member.
To alleviate some of the holiday stress from the family caregiver in your life, offer to host this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. If transportation of the family caregiver’s loved one isn’t feasible, thereby making the caregiver’s home the only place where the meal can be hosted, offer to help them prepare their home instead.
No matter the specific arrangements that you make with the family caregiver in your life, your hosting or assistance in the hosting preparations will lift an incredible burden from their shoulders.
2. Help with the Shopping and Meal Preparation
Between grocery shopping, meal preparation, and the actual cooking time, there’s a lot of moving parts involved when planning a successful Thanksgiving meal — and that’s just the food. And all of these steps demand one thing that family caregivers never have enough of: Time.
With caregivers rarely having time to spare and with extended time away from their loved one — to perform tasks like Thanksgiving meal shopping — not being feasible, your assistance with shopping and meal preparation will be a godsend.
3. Help Keep the Mood Positive and Meaningful
Family tensions can run high during Thanksgiving — particularly when hot-button conversations make their way to the dinner table. These moments of heated, stressful family confrontation are the last thing that the family caregiver, or their sick loved one, needs.
To help reduce the risk of the holiday turning sour, keep an eye out for tensions on the rise and help steer conversations toward more uplifting topics. A thoughtful word, kind gesture, and a positive attitude can work wonders at de-escalating heated situations, and will help the caregiver focus on enjoying the holiday.
4. Bring a Gift for the Caregiver
As one of the five love languages, gift giving may seem simple, but the thoughts and feelings that it communicates transcend the actual dollar amount of the gift itself.
But what if you don’t know what the family caregiver in your life wants? Ask! With time and money often being stretched thin for family caregivers, sometimes very practical gifts are just what a family caregiver needs. A new shower head might not sound like the most exciting gift to you, but it might be exactly the thing that makes day-to-day life for a caregiver just a little bit easier.
Whatever your gift may be, the true value lies in the family caregiver seeing that there’s someone out there who cares for them, is actively thinking of them, and wants to help see them through this time in life.
5. Listen, Support, and Love
Sometimes, all family caregivers need at the time is someone to compassionately listen to their stresses and fears, and to offer words of loving encouragement. Sadly, many caregivers — especially those who provide care to a loved one who is unable to speak — feel lonely and seldom have the opportunity to enjoy friendly, engaging conversation.
Lending your ear and heart to the family caregiver in your life might be exactly what they need. For them, be attentive, sympathetic, and compassionate during this demanding time in life.