Welcoming a caregiver into your loved one’s life shouldn’t stop after day one: offering ongoing support allows deeper bonds to form and a stronger relationship between families and caregivers. But, creating that connection takes conscious effort and intention. With a little thoughtfulness, your aging loved one’s caregiver will soon become an integral part of your family—and that’s something that pays off for everyone.
Treating your caregiver well not only makes their work more enjoyable, but it gives them more reason to stay with your family. And that can be invaluable with the high caregiver turnover rates in places like the Bay Area, where more and more older adults are opting to age in place. Take a little time, whenever you can, to encourage your loved one’s caregiver, and to show them what an asset they are to both you and your loved one.
3 Ways to Connect with Your Loved One’s Caregiver
When you find a caregiver who is able to build a trusted bond with your loved one, you want to keep them for as long as possible. Caregivers who feel appreciated are much more likely to stay on when times get tough—and learning how to express your gratitude, in simple, but meaningful ways, can help your caregiver feel a deeper connection to your family.
1. Find out Their Love Language
Therapist Gary Chapman suggests that these 5 types of love languages can enhance your relationships: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Noticing which of the love languages your caregiver relates to most will help you reach out to them in a way that is especially significant to them.
- Give words of affirmation: Verbally express gratitude whenever your caregiver goes above and beyond their regular duties, or offer words of encouragement if they’re having a tough day.
- Spend quality time: Invite them out to coffee, or sit together on the couch with some tea and share stories.
- Pick out simple gifts: Give your caregiver small tokens of thanks, like a gift certificate for a massage, or a box of their favorite biscuits.
- Perform acts of service: Take care of something that’s usually on your caregiver’s list of things-to-do, such as handling laundry, cleaning, or meal prep.
- Share physical touch: Greet your caregiver with a warm hug, and take their hand in yours when saying thank you.
2. Offer a Heartfelt Present
Whether or not receiving gifts is one of your caregiver’s specific love languages, presents go a long way in showing you care. While verbal acknowledgment is always nice, a heartfelt gift can make your caregiver feel truly special.
- Make it personal: Whether you’re a great baker, photographer, or card-maker, base the gift off of your own talents so they know you spent time on it.
- Consider your caregiver’s personality: Gear the gift around your caregiver’s hobbies and interests. That might be a new badminton racket, book, or toy for their pet.
- Communicate your intention: When gifting, do it in person and explain what made you think of this for them.
- Think outside their job: Don’t give a present that is related to caregiving. This is a great opportunity to show your caregiver you care about them as a person, beyond their job.
- When in doubt, keep it simple: A thoughtful card and fresh flowers are almost always guaranteed to put a smile on your caregiver’s face. Chocolate doesn’t hurt either!
3. Include Your Caregiver in Family Outings
Show them they’re a part of your family by treating them as such. Welcoming your caregiver to family occasions is a simple way to let them know they’re indispensable.
- Treat them to dinner: Whether you order in or cook a nice supper, having a sit-down meal together can help you both get to know each other within a relaxed environment. Serve their favorite dish for bonus points!
- Take family outings together: Head off on hikes in the Bay Area, or see art museums in San Francisco. Exploring the city with your aging loved one and caregiver can remind them there’s beauty all around.
- Invite them to family reunions: Introduce your caregiver to extended family members whenever you get the chance. Make sure they don’t need to work at these events—instead, be clear that they’re to enjoy the occasion.
- Create new traditions: If you don’t have regular reunions or family meals, don’t be afraid to start new rituals together with your caregiver. This could be a monthly picnic or trip to the movies, just as long as it’s an activity your caregiver enjoys doing.
At the end of the day, there are so many ways to show your caregiver how much you appreciate their hard work. Everyone benefits when family members take the time to build a relationship with their loved one’s caregiver—especially your aging loved one. When your caregiver feels truly supported, they’re able to give your loved one that much more of their energy and time.
It’s also worth noting that the Bay Area offers numerous caregiver resources, including support groups and local training. Between these and your own family’s efforts, it won’t be long before your caregiver feels appreciated and connected. And it’s this quality of relationship that will bring a better sense of fulfillment to their job, a deeper connection to your loved one, and an emotional drive to stay with your family.
If you want to discover more about caring for your aging loved one, Institute on Aging offers a variety of services, programs, and online resources. Connect with us today to learn more.