Most of us would agree that the best gifts are the ones we give as a caring expression of our love or concern for another. Throughout the year, Alzheimer’s caregivers give many “gifts” to those they love on a daily basis. But, caregivers are often much better at giving than receiving.
As a caregiver of someone with dementia, we have the opportunity every day to give them the gift of memory because we, as family or friends, are the keepers of those great stories and adventures. With a few key words or cues, we can help them unlock the window into their long-term memories and recall, once again, some of their most enjoyable experiences and escapades.
Despite the many challenges of caregiving, one still encounters special moments of joy. A family caregiver suggested that each of us might replace feelings of sadness, grief or frustration with feelings of gratitude. It would mean that we recognize each minute of our time or caregiving task as a reflection of our love – our gift to them. And, in giving in this manner we receive feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and pleasure in return.
With a belief that it is better to give than receive, caregivers can also provide the gift of joy to others that want to help. When we graciously accept their offers of time, talents and gestures of concern, we give them feelings of fulfillment and gratification in exchange.
All caregivers need support at some time during this journey. Before family members and friends stop asking, consider these tips that make it easy for everyone. Use posted notes on a bulletin board or refrigerator to indicate specific tasks that would be helpful. Also, consider asking if you can call on them at a future date, as other needs might arise. Practice saying “thank you” instead of “no”. Just think about how good it feels to help support a charitable organization or do a random act of kindness, and let good works begin at home.
Let this be a season of love and joy for all. Wishing you and yours, many Blessings and Joyful Gifts.
By Pam Kovacs Johnson