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According to the National Alliance for Caregivers, there are an estimated 53 million caregivers in the U.S. today- almost one in five Americans. So chances are- you are either a caregiver or know someone who is.
Family caregivers go above and beyond to care for someone else for an average of 4 years. They spend six days a month grooming, eating, dressing, bathing, and walking those they care for. And thirteen days a month, sweeping, doing laundry, checking medicine, shopping, and preparing special meals for someone other than themselves. Despite this, they remain undervalued and often underpaid, if at all. But today, you can make a difference.
U.S. National Caregivers Day is observed on the third Friday in February — this year, it will be on February 17. The day honors individuals who selflessly provide personal care and physical- and emotional support to those who need it most. Don’t let today pass by without making a difference to a caregiver. Below are some ideas to help you honor them.
Give the gift of self-care.
- Send them an e-certificate for a spa or pedicure. Various companies work around the globe, so you don’t need to worry about picking a place for them. Once they receive their e-certificate, the caregiver can search for the type of treatment they are looking for within their preferred city or zip code. They will have hundreds of spas to choose from. Two you can try right away are Spafinder and Pick Your Polish.
- Send them a care package. Caregivers are constantly washing their hands; send them a basket of lotions and hand sanitizers to remind them that caring for themselves is also essential. Sephora is always a crowd-pleaser!
Just be there.
- Offer to accompany them one day when caring for their loved one. Having a simple conversation and just being present can go a long way. Take charge of ordering food while you are there; that is always a nice treat.
- Call them and ask; How are you? Encourage them to tell you how they are feeling vs. talking about the person they are caring for. Listen to them and ask them if they need anything.
Pay it Forward.
- You can donate or give a gift to a charity of the caregiver’s choosing on their behalf. Most of the time, the charity you choose notifies them a donation was made in their honor. Many charities dedicate themselves to doing work in support of caregivers- like the National Alliance for Caregivers and the Family Caregiver Alliance. Our very own Foundation raises funds to provide additional support for caregivers whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care through our hospice care program.
- Give a gift in their honor. Many families feel grateful for the care provided to their loved ones and want to express their gratitude, but giving to licensed caregivers is usually not standard. You can honor them by donating in their name. Recently, our Foundation started a Circle of Caring program for this reason. It allows families to donate in honor of their professional caregivers. The caregiver then receives a special award and recognition- as a unique way to remind them of the difference they made.
Write it down.
- Acknowledgment and affirmation go a long way toward bringing pleasure and raising a caregiver’s confidence. In a note, share your heartfelt thanks and let the caregiver know how much you admire what they are doing. There are various companies where you can choose a card, and they will handle printing and sending for you. A tried and true one is Hallmark. You can also send a card and virtual gift card through American Greetings.
- Give them a huge Thank you shout-out of appreciation on Social media. A simple message of gratitude goes a long way! Make sure you tag them so their families and friend see them.
- Join our #You’veBeenThanked campaign- all you have to do is thank them on your social media. You can use our special image, which showcases animated flurries of Thank yous! Use it! Enjoy it! Share it, and Thank a Caregiver today!
At MJHS, we value both personal and professional caregivers and recognize the critical work you do. That is why we have created these online caregiving resources to help you through this crucial time in your life.
If you need additional help and support caring for your loved one, please feel free to contact MJHS. We can recommend other care options available to you through one of our programs.