Questions to Ask

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Are you wondering if your parents or other aging loved ones are beginning to need a little help to continue living independently? If so, you aren’t alone, and  you probably have some questions about how to get them the help they need.

Everyone’s first question is usually about the cost of care, but that question is premature. Before anyone can tell you how much care will cost, you should first understand what kind and how much help is needed, along with answering lots of other unknowns.

What kind of help your parents need will determine necessary skills and resources. If all your parents need is basic housekeeping like dusting, vacuuming and laundry, that could easily be covered by a part-time housekeeper, or even an older grandchild who lives close by. Chris lived with his grandmother when he was in high school so his commute was closer, and he did lots of little things to help her maintain her independence during those years. If, however, your mom or dad’s needs are more personal in nature, like help with bathing, toileting, and dressing, it might feel embarrassing or inappropriate for you or another family member to provide the necessary care. In times like these it might be best to hire a home care provider who can come one or more times weekly to take care of what needs doing for your aging loved ones. Often your home care company will do the housekeeping chores as well as the personal care requirements so you know your parents are well cared for. 

Next you need to assess how much help is needed. Some people need someone to be with them every day, while others only need someone to come once or twice a week. Overnight care is best for those who have balance or mobility issues and frequently need to get up in the night for bathroom needs, and also for anyone with advanced dementia. Of course, a loved one who would not be able to leave the house independently during an emergency should not ever be left alone.

Home Instead has developed a Care Calculator that can help you assess objectively what kind of care and how much care your mom or dad might need. When you complete the survey questions, your results will be sent to the Home Instead office and someone from the Client Care team will reach out to interpret how much care is needed. This is a free consultation and does not obligate you to Home Instead in any way.

Now you must consider your available resources since you have a pretty good idea of how much care is needed. Can any local family members or close friends and neighbors pitch in and help out? Are there community-based services like your Area Agency on Aging or the Alzheimer’s Associationyou can tap into? Does your parents’ church have a list of individuals that are available to help out on an occasional basis or in an ongoing arrangement? Does your dad or mom’s care require medical training? You should start by looking at what services can be obtained for little or no cost. Once you have taken the time to assess your resources and come up with a plan, check to see if any additional care is needed. If it is, it is likely time to ask the cost question at this juncture.

If the required care is more medical in nature, you might need to engage an agency or trained individuals like certified nurse aides (CNA’s) or even licensed practical nurses (LPN’s). Private funds or a Long-term Care Policy are commonly used to cover costs. Medicare doesn’t pay for services like home care and personal care for individuals still living independently within our communities, so that probably isn’t an option. For those needing someone to be with them 24/7 without family involvement this becomes extremely expensive for one-on-one medical care, but the alternative is moving into an Assisted Living Facility, which is still private pay in most cases, or into a Skilled Care Facility (like a Nursing Home). The pandemic has certainly heightened our awareness of the health risks associated with facility living during a viral outbreak, and almost all older adults would prefer to grow older in the comforts of the home where they currently live.

From here the cost of care becomes a simple math problem, at least in terms of what comes out of someone’s bank account…or does it? The outright cost would be calculated by how many hours of care are provided by someone earning a paycheck, divided by the hourly rate associated with the care being provided. Genworth has a good cost estimator here. But what about the cost to personal lives, relationships, careers, marriages, and families? There is always a cost associated with being a family caregiver, and with providing the necessary care to a loved one. What is the actual cost burden to you, the primary family caregiver? 

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about asking questions and finding answers to help your parents age in place.

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Wondering if Mom or Dad need a little help?

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As we all grow older many things change in our lives. Some changes are sudden, like an unexpected fall that breaks a bone or simply shakes confidence in one’s balance. Others occur gradually, like loss of hearing or reduced flexibility. These changes may impact one’s ability to live independently while keeping up with the daily tasks that used to be simple and routine.

If you have aging parents, over time, you might have begun to notice little changes that make you or others wonder if your parents need help. These gradual changes are easily missed, especially if you live locally and see your aging parents regularly. When your brother from out of town asks when Dad stopped doing yardwork, or why your mom never seems to cook anymore, you might be caught off guard.

Betsy certainly experienced this when she would go to visit with her mother with months in between visits. In Sarah’s last few years Betsy expressed concerns to her brother about her mother’s increasing difficulty with getting out of her recliner and walking to the bathroom. He came by almost every evening after work to check on their mom, but he usually arrived during Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, when she was sitting in her recliner. He rarely saw her get up until Betsy expressed her concerns, and then he got Home Health involved. The therapy she received kept Sarah walking for several more years than she might have had.

If both spouses are still in the home, you should know that spouses tend to cover for one another when one begins to slow down physically or mentally. The healthier partner may protect the other by doing more of the cooking or housework, or they might even make excuses. “Your dad is just waiting for better weather to get to the yard work; those old bones get cold this time of year!” A friend shared that when her husband and father-in-law went out of town for the weekend she was left in charge of her mother-in-law. During those few days she was shocked to learn that her mother-in-law could no longer tell time, turn on the stove, or even bathe herself. When the men returned from their weekend the family had a quick meeting and got help for their aging parents. 

Many people in their 70’s and 80’s begin to need help long before care is needed, and a little help will go a long way to keep your parents living independently while staying safe and healthy. The important thing is to start the conversation before those needs get too far along. Next week we’ll talk about questions to ask as you explore options for finding the help that is needed.

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about wondering if your parents need help.

The Power of Words

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Caregiving can be a very lonely place to find yourself. If the one you care for has limited mobility, it’s hard to get out and run errands or even just escape your all-too-familiar environment. If communication is also impaired or challenging because of hearing deficits or dementia, you might feel isolated and overwhelmed. But words have power, and words give life. The Bible speaks of this dynamic power in the first book of the Old Testament. In Genesis we read that God spoke all creation into being. In Genesis 1:3 we read, “And God said, “Let there be light” and from there He spoke seven more times, each phrase bringing more detail to life in the world where He made us. The Word is personified in the Gospel of John. In John 1:1-5 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Words, spoken or written, have the power to bless or to curse, to encourage or discourage. Because we are made in God’s image, we have the power to give life through our own words. Family caregivers desperately need to hear or read words of encouragement often to help them get through each and every day as they pour out themselves in care of others. Oftentimes those around you don’t even know where to begin when searching for the right words, to offer hope and encouragement that will lift you up and carry you through difficult times. Words seem empty when an observer perceives as impossible your burden of caring for an aging parent, spouse or loved one.  As the caregiver, you must help other family members and friends understand what you need to hear, and how they can build you up with their words. Make a list and share from it when someone offers to help. Don’t be reluctant to let others see your struggles; after all, even superheroes need refuge and support from time to time! 

Offers of help, invitations to get together for lunch or coffee, even asking how you are doing and then being quiet and listening to your honest answer are all ways to support and strengthen you when you are struggling to stay afloat. An offer to pick up groceries should be responded to with a list of what is needed. When someone tells you that you are doing a great job, don’t downplay your own efforts. Here’s a great list of things to say to a family caregiver from caregiving.com. For those caring for someone in the hospital or with a traumatic injury, brainline.org gives additional questions caregivers need to hear.

During these long months of social isolation, every family caregiver knows that at the end of the day there’s so much more we could have done, but you are using the wrong measuring stick if all you see is what you didn’t accomplish! Instead, look at everything you DID get done. Make a list, and I think you may be surprised by all the tasks you completed while caring for another. Those written words are small victories that happened as you went about living, and when you review them those words will give you a little endorphin boost. Give yourself some self-love and a pat on the back. You did your best, and that’s enough for today.

Chris and I hope you will join our conversation this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about the power of words in your life.

Being a 2021 Caregiver

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If 2020 taught us anything (besides diligence in practicing hand-washing techniques) it was that every caregiver is a hero! Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes. They come from diverse backgrounds, have a wide variety of skill sets, and range in age from very young to ancient! Some caregivers practice their skills in career form, while others give care by volunteering with family members, friends, or organizations with whom they affiliate. Some caregivers are reluctantly obligated to this role because they believe there is no other option, while others willingly embrace the responsibility of caring for others as their calling.

One outstanding feature that defines a great caregiver is an intangible quality that comes from their heart. The heart of the caregiver is a powerful engine that feeds their extraordinary passion for caring for others. It is this unique characteristic, this overpowering drive, that pushes a caregiver out of their comfort zone and into the lives of others, enriching those lives and influencing our society in countless ways. Whether caring for family members, patients, facility residents, neighbors, or private clients, a caregiver exudes all the qualities of a true hero: selflessness in the face of adversity, diligence to the task at hand, unwavering commitment to helping those in need, and that intangible quality that inspires complete trust.

So, are you a caregiver? If your answer is yes, then Betsy and I salute you for the important role you play in your family, your community, and your world. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many people around you! During this past year you have been a fortress of protection, a song of hope, an oasis of comfort, and a cure for loneliness to those for whom you care. You have been an example to many, and a hero to many more. If you are not a caregiver, then think about who the caregivers are in your life and take some time this week to recognize them for what they do. By showing your appreciation, you will uplift and empower these special people to continue their important work!

This week at Heart of the Caregiver, Chris and I are singing our praise for caregivers everywhere for their selfless commitment to caring for others. We hope you will join our conversation and share your heart about a special caregiver who has touched your life during the pandemic.

Needing Christmas

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Most years Chris and I feel like the holidays are so crazy busy that we’ll just be relieved when it’s all over…how about you? Even during this strange COVID year we find that as we get closer to THE DAY it seems like there’s just not enough time to get everything done. Even family caregivers get caught up in the mad rush and your care schedule seems to turn upside down in all the hubbub!

This year I think we all needed Christmas to come a little early. I know people who put their Christmas trees up on November 1! Shopping for gifts has been largely done online to avoid being out in public places and risk contracting the virus. The postal service, always extremely busy during this time of year, has seen its’ volume increase exponentially as COVID impacts this sector of our society as well. Seasonal concerts and performances became virtual events, family gatherings have been cancelled, and even churches are advised to suspend meeting in person as the virus continues to spread following our Thanksgiving celebrations across the country. Hospital wards are full, people are dying, and while the vaccine rolls out, we begin to hear the warnings of negative side effects and unknown dangers to come. Wow, what a Christmas this is setting up to be!

But wait, the bad news isn’t all there is. It’s easy to get caught up in all the bad news and begin to believe you have nothing to celebrate, but that is just not true!

We all need to stop, take a deep breath, and remember our reason for celebration.

Jesus was born into a world that was chaotic, messy, and in political turmoil. He came at a time that was terribly inconvenient for Mary and Joseph, since they were traveling and didn’t even have a place to spend the night. He came at a time when nobody was expecting him, nobody was ready for him, and nobody even cared…except for the angels, and the shepherds, and the wise men, and the impact of His coming grew from there. Jesus came to bring Christmas! When Jesus was born, people everywhere, throughout the ages, got the best gift ever. It came at an unimaginable cost and was given without restriction to everyone throughout the ages, including you and me. That gift, come as an infant, grew to be the savior of the world!

This Christmas season I’d like to invite you to join Chris and me as we reflect on the true reason for our Christmas celebration, and find our rest in the One who loves every one of us, warts and all. As we sing the carols, light candles, and read scripture, let us all be filled with an overflowing sense of joy, hope, peace, and love. Let His light shine through as you care for those in your life who depend upon you.

Chris and I wish you a very merry Christmas, and we hope you will join us at HeartoftheCaregiver.com and share your heart about who Jesus is to you in this season of light and hope.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Seniors

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When fishing for ideas of what to get your loved one for Christmas, does any of this sound familiar? 

“Oh, don’t get me anything,” or “I really don’t need anything, I’ve got everything I could ever want!”

How about, “Spend your money on your family, I’m okay.”?

These were all things we heard from Betsy’s mother as she grew into a very advanced age. Each year Betsy struggled to find just the right gift for her mother, something she would be able to use and enjoy throughout the year. You see, my mother-in-law was rarely one to enjoy something that would be put on a shelf and looked at. Always a pragmatic woman, she saw little value in trinkets and the like. But give her something that she could use and enjoy, and you won her heart!

One year, Betsy had each of our daughters make both of their grandmothers fleece lap blankets. She bought two large pieces of the fabric for each of our mothers. One piece was solid, and the other was patterned in a complimentary color array. The girls cut fringes on each edge and then knotted the two pieces together all around. That gift was treasured by our mothers for as long as they lived, and now each daughter has a blanket that belonged to one of their grandmothers.

Remember, Christmas is about more than presents, or candy and sweets, or parties. There are lots of things you can do as a family caregiver to create new Christmas memories for your love one that are unique and greatly appreciated! Whether your gift comes in a box or as an experience, keep in mind your loved one’s abilities and preferences. Betsy’s mother probably wouldn’t have enjoyed a cooking class, and mine would have been game for almost anything! But the best gifts come from the heart, and Betsy and I have ideas for what to get your aging loved one that they would never consider asking for! Consider these:

  1. Host a virtual caroling party with family members or your mom’s friends. While you can’t safely all sit around the living room and rattle the rafters with some favorite tunes, you can use available technology to gather virtually. Use Zoom to see everyone and all feel like you are together, even when you aren’t. Tell stories about caroling years before and see what funny tales emerge.
  2. Let the grandkids bake Christmas cookies to bring over and leave on the porch. Let Grandma or Grandpa be the taste testers, and talk through the storm door, or even sing Christmas songs through the window together. The little ones could even put on a Christmas play in the yard if the weather permits.
  3. Have a decorating party. Arthritic joints and balance problems make decorating difficult for many seniors, and it doesn’t really feel much like Christmas without the trimmings. This year it’s been especially difficult to feel joyful coming into the holidays, but both you and those you care for will feel more cheerful when you pull out seasonal decorations and talk about family traditions as you dress the house up a little for the holidays.
  4. Take a drive and see the lights. This used to be one of our favorite holiday traditions when I was young, and when seniors don’t see as well at night, driving may be reduced, restricted, or abandoned. Drive through some well-decorated neighborhoods; the “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” will definitely be worth it, and social distancing isn’t even a concern!
  5. Write Christmas cards together or help your loved one address theirs for an afternoon. Talk about the people these cards will go to and catch up on little details as you do.

For more suggestions on great experiential Christmas gifts, click here. For other ideas on ways to pump up the holidays for a senior loved one, visit this site.

Betsy and I hope you’ll share your heart about thoughts on new perspectives for giving meaningful gifts to aging loved ones this year and in the years ahead.

Avoiding Holiday Stress!

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In any “normal” year the holidays are filled with stress! With shopping, parties, cooking, writing Christmas cards, or decorating, there’s more than enough pressure to go around for everybody, but for family caregivers, everyday life is anything but ordinary! Back when the world outside was running the way we all expected, the caregiving challenges you faced as a caregiver, combined with the pressures and complications of the holidays could easily have made you wish you could just skip Christmas and move on into the next year of your life. In 2020, with the added stress of COVID-19, it is almost unimaginable. While many of the parties and activities have been canceled, the constant strain and worry of keeping your loved ones safe, especially if they are seniors with already weakened immune systems and any frailty at all, can make these holidays seem like too much to handle!

To make matters even worse, you might feel like a complete failure as you enter the end-of-year crush that is still going to happen. Everywhere you turn, you see your best-laid plans lying in ruins all around you. Perhaps last year you promised yourself you’d get an early jumpstart on those Christmas cards next year, or you’d do your shopping early. Neither of those things happened. The closet you meant to clean out is still overflowing with unworn clothing. Those 10 (or 50) stubborn pounds are still hanging around. You have so many plans still unfulfilled and intentions not acted on, because when it comes down to it,  you just don’t have the energy!

This year, even in the midst of all of the craziness that has been 2020,  it’s time to take control of your schedule and your life! You’ve committed to being a family caregiver, and that commitment means more than baking a few cookies or decorating a tree. It may feel impossible, but you can destress your holidays by following a few simple rules, starting with this one:

Take time to breathe this holiday season! The first rule for destressing the holidays is to take care of yourself. If you don’t do this, you can’t take care of anyone else, and without breathing, you cannot survive. Create some margin in your life that will help you focus, find your center, and renew your energy.

The next rule for destressing the holidays is to involve others in your daily plans and routines…and talk to them! Just including someone in the planning process as you talk through your responsibilities can help you maintain balance. And, when others offer to help, be ready with a list of ideas for how they can help out. Get creative. Let them help you find ways to take some time for yourself, away from the isolation of quarantine and breath some fresh air. Practice social distancing and follow safety protocols, but use the help of others to give yourself that breathing space you really need  

You can also Click here for other tips and ideas for destressing your holidays so you can regain clarity on the real Reason for the Season: the birth of the Christ Child, our Savior. God’s gift of his Son was, hands down, the best gift of all, and none of us can ever top that. Embrace this truth, and let the stress just melt away as you relax into the joy of pure celebration. Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let Earth receive her King!

Betsy and I hope you’ll share your heart about other ways to manage your stress through the holidays and beyond!

By the way, here’s a quick and easy recipe that I (Chris) have been making on Christmas Day for the last several years. Our whole family loves it, and it is so stone simple.

Holiday Boneless Turkey Breast

1 Boneless Turkey Breast Roast

1 can frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate 

1 18 oz. jar orange marmalade

Garlic powder

Ground cloves

Salt

Pepper

The night before, place the cranberry juice cocktail in refrigerator to thaw.

Season the thawed turkey breast roast with salt, pepper, cloves and garlic powder. The roast will be in a netting of twine. Leave that on, and just rub the seasoning on to the meat. Place the roast in a crock pot. Pour the marmalade over the turkey. Then pour the cranberry concentrate over everything. But the lid on the crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours. Roll the turkey breast over at the halfway point so the flavors seep in to the whole roast. 


Remove the roast from the crock pot and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Use kitchen scissors to remove the netting. Slice and enjoy.

Holidays Pandemic Style

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The 2020 pandemic has certainly added its own unwelcome flair to our holiday stresses and joys, and this is certainly true for family caregivers. Between observing social distancing while managing the care of aging family members, nurturing your marriage, keeping track of crazy school schedules with children, and meeting the demands of your job or career, it might seem like you’ll never be able to keep all those balls in the air, but when the holidays bring even more busyness, you might feel like your whole world is falling apart!

For the next several weeks Betsy and I will be looking at the holidays from several different perspectives. We’ll consider the stress of the holidays, the joys of the holidays for both young and old, the memories made each year that will last a lifetime, and the foods of the holidays that will make your mouth water! We’ll post some of our favorite recipes!

For now, let’s start with one of the big holiday topics: FOOD! While most holiday activities will be centered around the table and a gathering of loved ones young and old, one of the things that should not stress you out during the holidays is food! Simplicity is definitely the winning recipe here. While everyone has favorite holiday treats, don’t go over the top for a dessert that takes days to prepare. Choose something fun and simple, and let others help. The best ways to handle food stress is to choose light and easy and enjoy the conversations over sweet tea or coffee more than the actual food.

Another issue this year is that the idea of “gathering” has been discouraged because of the threat of COVID-19. Our oldest family members are still our most vulnerable when it comes to the virus, but there are ways to “gather” in spite of the virus.

One possibility is to connect over ZOOM, Skype, or Facetime while eating the meal. Have someone manage the “meeting” by letting family members join through smart phones or tablets. You don’t have to spend a long time to make everyone feel included. Even a short call, where everyone shares one blessing they are thankful for in spite of the pandemic, might be a good way to set the tone. You could also open gifts together or read the Christmas story through this technology while keeping everyone safe at home.

Just don’t get mired down by the restrictions the pandemic has brought. We are all very tired of the idea of “safe at home”, but until a vaccine is safely deployed, our aging family members and those with immune deficiencies or chronic diseases are very much at risk of exposure. If we all do our part, we can all enjoy the holidays in new and creative ways while nurturing old traditions and maybe starting some new ones along the way.

I promised a few recipes, so here’s the first one. We shared it a couple of years ago, but it’s so good that it bears repeating! It comes from Southern Living and is a family favorite in the Head household that we’ve enjoyed for the past 20 years every Thanksgiving and Christmas. We call it “Cranberry Stuff”. It’s a Cranberry Horseradish sauce that we serve over cream cheese as an appetizer and then straight up as cranberry sauce on the table with the turkey. It takes a little prep, but in 30 minutes it’s ready to enjoy.

We hope you’ll join us here at Heart of the Caregiver as we embark on a holiday journey that we hope will leave you feeling filled with holiday cheer in spite of the pandemic!

Cranberry “Stuff”

116-oz canwhole-berry cranberry sauce   
12cupsugar   
13cuponion   minced
2tablespoonshorseradish   prepared
12teaspoonsalt   
18-oz packagecream cheese   
3sprigsrosemary   

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat. Cover and chill 1 hour or up to 3 days.

When ready to serve, spoon Cran-Horseradish Sauce over cream cheese on a plate. Garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers.

If you like canning, this cans really well also, and makes a great hostess gift!

Giving Thanks to God

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I heard a sermon over the weekend that reflected on who we are giving thanks to on Thanksgiving Day. These days many people express thanks to anything but God! Don’t get me wrong here; it is certainly appropriate during this season of thankfulness to express appreciation to the people who make a big difference in your life. Just don’t confuse human contributions with the Divine blessings in your life! God alone is the author and finisher of your faith, and your Creator and Lord. All blessing, honor, praise and thanksgiving belong to Him.

God made each one of us to be who and what we are. We are all beautifully, wonderfully similar but uniquely different. We are each gifted with our own abilities, strengths, passions, and desires. These differences balance us all in the body of Christ. Perhaps you excel at something I’m not very good at, while I find it easy to do something you struggle to accomplish. We need each other to survive and thrive.

A great family caregiver can embrace this truth and lean into their own strengths while also acknowledging where they are out of their depth. Asking for help at critical times is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. Trusting that God equips each one of us with everything we need also means recognizing that we might not always be the one doing what needs to be done. Giving thanks for the many ways that God provides for us every day is just one of the things Betsy and I will be acknowledging during this week of Thanksgiving.

When Betsy was caring for her mother during Sarah’s last months, she often told me how deeply grateful she was for the professional caregivers and others in the community who came alongside and helped with her mother’s care. Companions, home helpers, hospice workers, home health providers, family members, neighbors, friends, former students, and brothers and sisters in Christ all contributed in one way or another to Sarah’s care. Some provided hands-on care and assistance, while others sat and visited with Sarah, sharing laughter, reading scripture, and praying together. Food was brought, hugs were shared, cards came in the mail, and during all of it Betsy was grateful for the help, and for the time to cherish and enrich her relationship with her mother. She knew that God sent each one of those individuals for a reason, and Sarah knew joy, laughter, comfort and peace in her last days.

During this COVID season of our lives, I encourage you to look back over the last eight months and see where God has provided exactly what you needed, exactly when you needed it. Whether your need was felt in caregiving, in parenting, in your marriage, with your job, or in your spiritual life, consider how you have experienced God’s perfect provision for your life and circumstances.

In this time to be thankful for the bountiful blessings God has given us, Betsy and I hope you’ll share your heart about giving thanks to God for the many ways he supplies your every need. Give thanks.

Giving Thanks for Professional Caregivers

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Caring for others is rewarding, but it’s a really tough job! We harp on that pretty often here at Heart of the Caregiver, but the reason we do that is because so many people try to do it totally on their own. Anyone who has tried that for any length of time, though, finds out that it just isn’t possible. Every successful family caregiver learns that there are times when you need help; you just can’t do this job by yourself all the time.

Some of that help comes in the form of professional caregivers, those people whose occupation is to provide assistance to people in need. Often, when we think about “professional caregivers” and use that term, nurse aides and home care attendants are the folks that come to mind. But the spectrum of people God has called to be professional caregivers is much broader than that. It also includes doctors, nurses, rescue squad workers, physical, occupational, or speech therapists, counselors, pastors, and so many others. These folks are invaluable when their services are needed. And what would we do without the staff member that draws blood at the lab or helps with administering dialysis or chemotherapy treatments? All these people and many more are professional caregivers, and they are gifted at what they do! They supplement, and occasionally replace, the care you provide. They enhance life for your loved one, and also for you.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, think about all of the caregivers that God has placed in your life and the lives of those around you. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them. And if you cross paths with one of them, tell them how thankful you are for what they do.  If you happen to be one of these “angels of mercy”, know that Betsy and I are profoundly grateful to you and for you. Like I said, caring is hard work, and its not a one person job. Thanks be to God for those who have responded to His call to care!