One of the biggest steps you can take to improve your quality of life as a caregiver – and, by extension, improve the quality of life of your care recipient – is to find the joys inherent in caregiving.
As Amy Goyer of AARP puts it:
“Notice the inherent joy in every day. Make an effort to be mindful of the joy that you might be missing when your mind is racing and your tension rages… Being creative and open to the humorous, joyful moments will help you face the tougher aspects of caregiving.”
Caregiving is about love.
To be a family caregiver often means spending ample quality time with a family member. You’ll be there for some tough moments, of course. But you’ll also get to witness so many warm, wonderful, memorable moments, as well. Your mom’s face lighting up with happiness over a favorite dish from their childhood. Your dad’s moment of victory as he gets in the car after a physical therapy appointment. You’re probably thinking of personal moments of your own, just reading this.
Let yourself get attuned to these joyful moments and use them as your guiding light. Let them give you comfort in the future, something to reflect on fondly, perhaps when you’re in the middle of a rough patch.
It’s important to prioritize noticing the moments of joy throughout the day while also trying to create joyful moments. As a caregiver, one powerful way to benefit yourself and your loved one is to look for opportunities to spark joy, to infuse the day with warmth and happiness.
Here are a few ideas on how to create joyful moments in caregiving:
- Play your loved one’s favorite genre of music. Studies have shown that music is a remarkable tool for bringing on happy memories and easing pain.
- Make a favorite meal. Even if your loved one is unable to eat a full meal, you can create a special memory or help remember a favorite time around a similar meal.
- Look at old photos together. Remember fun times, vacations, family outings or friends visiting to create a special moment together.
- Decorate for a holiday. Take the time to decorate for special occasions, from the first day of spring to your loved one’s birthday. Include decorations where your loved one can enjoy them too.
- Go out into nature or bring it inside. Visit a garden or bring flowers and plants indoors. The joy and possibilities found in nature can give you renewed energy in your caregiving.
Adapted from Companions for Seniors, https://companionsforseniors.com/2019/01/finding-joy-caregiving/ and AARP, https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/joy-of-caregiving-ag.html.