A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way

recognizing-caregiversThere are caregiver recognition weeks and months, and sometimes there are awards given at banquets to a caregiver who has done something amazing, but when you’re in the trenches and caring for someone who has a chronic condition, it can feel like like the hardest, most thankless job you’ve ever done.

When I met my friend Ginny for breakfast recently and asked, “How’s Mike?” She shrugged and said, “So-so.”

I said, “I’m sorry. I know this is hard for both you and Mike.”

Quite forcefully she said, “Thank you! Thank you for recognizing that it’s hard for me too! Everybody always says, ‘Poor Mike! Poor Mike!’ No one ever stops to think that this is hard for me too! I never get any recognition or appreciation!”

I gave her the link to my website, CaregiverHelp.com, and suggested she spend some time watching our videos about coping with caregiver anger, guilt, depression and grief.

She really surprised me when she said, “Caregiving! Well, I guess I will be a caregiver someday.”

I said, “Oh, Ginny, you’ve been Mike’s caregiver for a long time.”

She teared up and said, “Thank you. You have made my day.”

I would have assumed that Ginny had identified herself as a caregiver years ago. Evidently, no one has recognized and acknowledged how much effort it takes for her to help him or how much his increasing disability has impacted her life. From her perspective, everyone seems to think Mike is the only one affected by the disease, and she’s very angry about that.

I don’t think it’s unusual for most people to focus on the condition and the needs of the care receiver. So today, if you know someone who is caring for a loved one, take a moment to acknowledge that person and the effort they are making to keep things going as their care receiver’s health declines. It may seem like a small thing, but to someone who is in the trenches of caregiving, a little bit of recognition and appreciation can make a huge difference.