Dear Caregivers: You Are Making a Difference

I have bipolar disorder. My husband is my caregiver. He didn’t sign up for this gig when we met, except for later vowing the part about “in sickness and in health” when we married. I could not negotiate life without him. I try to thank him daily.

My mother was my father’s caregiver when he was dying of multiple myeloma. She knew she was doing a good job of taking care of him, but she asked me to tell her that. She needed someone to tell her she was doing it right.

So this is for my husband and my mother, and for caregivers everywhere.

Thank you. Good job. We need you, and we know it.

Some of you are unpaid caregivers who help loved ones. All of you deserve our thanks.

Some caregivers receive pay, and you deserve our thanks, too. There are many other professions or jobs you could be doing, but you chose to help those who need it.

You work in homes, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, schools and group homes. Your work matters more than most people may realize.

Respite care workers deserve recognition, too. You allow caregivers to continue their work refreshed. You give them a space to catch their breath and recharge their spirits. You are caregivers as well.

The care you all give is not easily definable. It can involve meeting physical, spiritual, mental and emotional needs. It provides sustenance, both literal and figurative.

Recently I wrote a blog post called “Caregivers Need Care Too.” It talked about what I believe caregivers need in return for the attention, care, support, assistance and love they give. In it, I said that those who care for others need something from those they care for, and from the rest of society. They need appreciation, validation, time away to refresh and re-energize themselves, understanding, support and recognition.

So, please accept this from me, one who has known caregivers and benefited from caregivers, and loved caregivers. Your work and your devotion do not go unnoticed, even if the one you care for may not be able to say “thank you.” You are appreciated. You are worthy. You are loved. You are respected. You make a difference. You have value. You are valued. Even if you never hear these words from those you care for, please accept them from me.

I am grateful.

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