We’re officially halfway through 2015 (honestly, where did the months go?), and it’s already time for a new #GetKind theme to get you inspired for the next 31 days. After a momentous June, filled with recognition, inclusivity, and all-out celebration of the LGBTQ+ community — as well as another historic marriage equality decision — it might seem as if we’ve reached the high point for this year already and have nowhere else to go with all that energy.
That’s where we’d be wrong. Rather than resting easy, we’re channeling all that anxious momentum into a brand new direction: getting kind for caregivers and those who spend their days helping others.
Of course, a caregiver can embody the term in the traditional sense — as nurses, doctors, and medical assistants — or in a broader one. That means that in addition to the wealth of incredible EMTs, nursing home aides, and physical therapists out there, we’re choosing to also honor and #GetKind for all those who give of themselves to better the lives of others, such as counselors, nannies, disaster relief workers, and spouses who have dedicated their free time to the ones they love — and we’re encouraging you to do the same.
How can you #GetKind for caregivers this month?
Our regional representatives and staffers have pooled their ideas this month to help you jumpstart your own projects for the caregivers in your lives:
“Time is a really important factor for caregivers,” explains UK South Rep. Sara. “Helping with tasks that take up ‘free’ time can help give caregivers a chance to unwind.” Assist them with their own personal checklists by “gardening, ironing” or organizing rooms, she adds.
In that same vein, says U.S. Southwest Rep. Chris, “Let [caregivers] know that you are there to help shoulder the load — ask for their ideas, but don’t put the burden on them.” In other words, explains Chris, if they don’t have suggestions, you can be a little more specific. “‘Let me know if I can help’ is vague and can make it harder for someone to actually accept help,” adds Chris. “Try to offer clear actions (e.g., ‘I’m going to the store, can I pick something up for you?’ or ‘Can I cook dinner for you to give you a night off?’) It’s easier to accept a specific, targeted offer to help and doesn’t accidentally put a burden on them of trying to figure out what they need when they’re already stretched thin in their own role as caregiver.”
Leave kind notes at their workspaces or where you know they’ll easily come across them. Sometimes the simplest gestures can mean the world to a tired colleague or friend who’s just spent the last two hours chasing down an angry toddler or running errands for their elderly neighbor. A sweet missive always brightens someone’s day.
Listen, listen, listen! Is your mom, an ER nurse, recuperating on her day off, only to find there’s no one there to unwind and vent with? Call her up and plan an easy picnic at the nearby park, or bring a hot cup of coffee over to her house in the morning and let her chat. Sometimes letting someone tell you about their day is more therapeutic than the best spa session.
Learn about their work. Whether it’s your best friend or your brother’s three month or three year anniversary on the job, find out what they do and show them you appreciate their talents — it’s never too late to show genuine interest in all their hard efforts. (And hey, taking them out to lunch to celebrate doesn’t hurt either….)
“Think about what they like to do and maybe find ways to bring their interests into a situation,” suggests Chris. “Presenting them with a favorite book or a puzzle they like or something that they can do during their down-time can mean a lot.” Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive either, if you’re strapped for cash. The book of poems that changed your life might very well be the best gift for your cousin, the therapist, who simply needs a new collection with which to unwind.
Offer a shoulder to lean on and be an understanding presence when they need you to be. Oftentimes, relief workers are forced to undergo a tremendous emotional and mental burden under devastating circumstances — and that stress can leak through into their personal life. Offer to hold their hand (whether physically or metaphorically) and help them navigate the harsh conditions by volunteering to take their place for a little while, if at all possible. And if not? Be there anyway.
Care for them when they need it. The National Center on Caregiving reports that family caregivers specifically are at an enormously increased risk of sickness, depression, chronic illness, and high blood pressure — and most concerning is that many of them often don’t realize they need help too. The next time your aunt comes home from working with Grandpa all day feeling a little under the weather, chip in your own support. A bowl of chicken noodle soup and a warm blanket, plus assistance with her own personal errands, will show your aunt just how much you love and appreciate her for everything she does and everything she is.
This month, we’re turning the spotlight on those who often go overlooked around the globe — because it’s about time we brought some well-deserved kindness to those who truly care.