Go Ahead, Make My Day

Sometimes going to the grocery store causes me anxiety. Not that I don’t like shopping, but in a small town, that is where you meet everyone you know. 

The first questions people ask when they see me are usually:

 “How is your mom?”  

“How is your husband?”

Or, if they really know my story, they may actually ask, “How are you today?” I often respond with the typical, “I’m fine.” because the real answer might just be too long or painful to relate in the aisles. 

When I ask my caregiver group about these interactions, some say that they have never been asked about themselves. A caregiver is the unpaid family member or friend who devotes themselves to taking care of the multiple medical concerns of a loved one. We often feel invisible, isolated and alone on our caregiving journey, but try to put on a brave face to the world. Overlooking the extra load can reinforce the feeling that caregiving is taken for granted and not valued within the community. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see extra thoughtfulness for caregivers and an effort from their tribe to reach out regularly? Sincerely inquiring about how they are doing is an act of kindness and can make a powerful difference. It is difficult to ask for specific help, so allow me to offer some inspiration for simple acts of kindness that could really make their day. 

Offer your time and be specific about your plans, you could;

  • Get a group together for a spring or fall yard clean up. 
  • Mow the grass, rake the leaves, weed the garden. 
  • Fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, do the dishes.
  • See if they have anything to go to the dump.
  • Shovel the snow. 
  • Walk their dog. 
  • Offer your chauffeur services. 
  • Volunteer to be a back-up person for emergencies. 
  • Give them a break if their person can’t be left alone. 
  • Send a card or an email.
  • Drop off books or magazines. 
  • Do something fun together. 
  • Invite them to get outside with you; walk, hike, ski, bike, etc.
  • Call or text when you are going to the grocery store to see if they need anything. 
  • Double your baking recipe and share. 
  • Drop off a loaf of your famous sourdough bread. 
  • Pack up and deliver some of your soups or leftovers. 
  • Give a gift card to a local coffee shop or restaurant
  • Text a quick check in to let them know you are thinking of them. 
  • Wait for a real answer if they respond with “I’m fine.” 
  • Listen and be present without trying to fix or fade what they are feeling. 
  • Be patient if you have heard it all before. 
  • Practice empathy (I feel your pain) instead of sympathy (I’m sorry for you).
  • Acknowledge the difference they are making. 
2023 is the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Calendar, and it is predicted to be a year of hope. The Rabbit is described as one who is full of kindness, gentleness, patience, luck, and longevity. As caregivers we are so appreciative of the generosity and thoughtfulness we have received from family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers. I am optimistic that this year will be one of hope, and that we can all practice the patience and kindness that embodies the Year of the Rabbit.  

To find out more about our local caregiver support program and monthly meetings check out:
The Caregivers Network for East Kootenay Seniors Facebook page.  

Toll free 1-877-489-0803. 
Caregiversnetworkek.com

The Elk Valley Group meets at Mugshots at 3:15pm on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

Photo by Sarah Pullen