Thanksgiving week is over, I hope that everyone enjoyed platefuls of turkey and stuffing followed by a tryptophan induced nap and have survived the annual mass hysteria known as Black Friday. In the spirit of gratitude, I’d like to give a
big shout out and a big thank you to the people who support, help and encourage stroke survivors and other survivors to lead more productive, healthy and thriving lives.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing family who are also my caregivers: My husband, My children, my sister And my mom. My mother and sister-in-law also give tremendous help and support.
Caregivers give so much, it seems impossible to tell them how much they are appreciated. Material things will not be enough to express our thanks. I know this list is short, I have wracked my brain for answers and I cannot seem to come up with something that would be able to truly express my gratitude.
- Say what you mean. Our caregivers are not mind readers, we sometimes feel that they “should” know what is it that we want or need. Try not to say things like “it would be nice if I had a warm blanket” or “ Is there anyone here who could get me some water?”. It might be hard to ask, specially for the simple things we used to be able to do. But being direct, but polite eliminates a lot of misunderstanding and resentment.
2. Give them space. The first year after the stroke specially the first six months, I was worried about being left alone. I also did not like going outside. My family was held “hostage” by my fear. Armando, my husband was still working full time, so he would put in 9 hour work days, then come home and take over for my mom to care for me. The boys were busy with school, so they help out when they can. Armando was essentially “on” 24/7. He needed a break. I managed to kick him out of the house to hang with friends before he burned out. Since then we have learned that having some time for ourselves is essential for our sanity. He now works from home, so getting some alone time is even more important. The people who take care of us, must also take care of themselves, be it some time at the gym or going out with friends. Time when they can just breath and relax without having to worry about pain levels, medications or cutting up food.
3. Encourage them to join a support group. As much as we need support and other people who understand & know how we feel, our caregivers need the same. They need other people to be a sounding board, to get new ideas from and most importantly a place where they could bitch about us (Ha!).
4.Give your recovery your best effort. We all want to get back to our normal lives and to be able to do things on our own. Our caregivers want the same for us. Armando beams with pride when he sees me working out or doing physical therapy. I know in my heart he is happy to see me working hard and trying. He posts more photos on Instagram than I do! Our loved ones our caregivers have invested a lot of time with us and for us. I feel that watching us work hard, putting in the effort and slowly make our way back to recovery is as satisfying to them as it is to us.
5.Say “Thank You”. Seems obvious, I know. But there are times I forget or worse yet, I take their help for granted. Sometimes I get caught up with my deficits and self pity I fail to see how much my family does for me. Our caregivers give us the support we need: emotionally and/or physically. Express gratitude often and openly. This simple phrase means so much.
I know this list is short and inadequate. I cannot come up with anything that would be able to truly express how grateful I am. Do you have any ideas? If you are a caregiver, what is it that you would like? Please let me know in the comments!