News & Stories
National Caregiver Day: Express Your Appreciation
With Valentine’s and Presidents Days tucked away for the year, you might be inclined to think that we’re finished with February holidays, but this is not so! In fact, the best of February holidays—occurring on Friday, February 21—will be celebrated for the remainder of the month, as that date marks National Caregiver Day.
Originated by Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies (PAHHHA) and first observed in 2016, National Caregiver Day recognizes the professional caregivers in healthcare and hospice who support our loved ones. However, it is quickly becoming more broadly accepted as a day of appreciation for any caregiver. After all, caregivers have much in common, and every caregiver—paid or unpaid—deserves affirmation.
Why a holiday for the unsung caregiver?
Caregivers often face difficult life changes, decisions and tasks they would never have imagined for themselves, much less chosen. Their unselfish sacrifices and advocacy to ensure the welfare of another are innumerable and may come at great personal cost. In fact, their efforts often result in the caregiver’s own:
- serious health compromises
- increased financial burden
- sleep deprivation
- family and marital conflicts
- depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns.
Adding to these costs may be increased loneliness, isolation and discouragement, with few opportunities for socialization.
Finding the custom tribute
In his book, The Five Love Languages…1, author Gary Chapman explains how different expressions of love are received and experienced differently by each of us. According to Chapman, knowing and relating to another person’s “love language” — i.e., customizing our communication with him/her in the best way it can be received — is likely to make the demonstration of love or appreciation far more effective than just doing whatever happens to be our own preference. Consider the most meaningful way(s) in which you might recognize a caregiver, depending on his/her “language.”
|Caregiver’s Language||Examples of Expressions of Love and Appreciation to a Caregiver|
|Words of Affirmation||Call, visit, write a note to express your appreciation|
|Quality Time||Provide respite, make a meal, spend time with the caregiver|
|Receiving Gifts||Gift certificates, a book or a cheery bouquet|
|Acts of Services||Run errands, assist with driving, help with the caregiver’s stated need|
|Physical Touch||A hug or touch of the hand — include eye contact and intentional listening|
Get in the holiday spirit!
Whether we’re talking about the 4th of July, Thanksgiving or National Donut Day, holidays exist for a purpose. With the obvious exception of National Nothing Day — a day in January specifically designated for no celebration whatsoever — holidays always beg some sort of action on our part, don’t they? It isn’t enough to know that a holiday exists; it’s what we do with it that matters.
National Caregiver Day is no exception. A custom tribute for a caregiver might take a little thought and effort, but even a small gesture can provide some respite, restore one’s faith, or encourage a weary body and heavy heart. And that is worth every effort, regardless of what day it is.
1Chapman, Gary: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1992.
Kate Kunk, R.N., coaches family caregivers of aged and disabled Hoosiers for CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. Kate holds degrees in nursing and sociology. Before joining CICOA, her skills in advocacy have taken her to homeless shelters in Manhattan and Virginia and a psychiatric clinic in Tennessee. She also worked in the publishing industry for more than three decades, during which time she developed educational materials for McGraw-Hill and Pearson in the New York metropolitan area. Reducing the incidence of preventable illness and facilitating improved quality of life for people of all ages are two of Kate’s lifelong passions.