Flowers, jewelry, fragrant soaps, and cards aren't going to cut it for a family caregiver.
As a member of the ‘sandwiched generation’, she averages 48-years-old, and she supervises three lives simultaneously – her children, an aging parent, and her own.
Denise Brown, certified professional coach, and founder of Caregiving.com, told RetirementHomes.com: “The best gift for a Mom who also provides care is your time.”
“Put yourself in the caregiving schedule,” she said. “Ask your mom when she'd like a four-hour break and then take care of her.”
Brown, a prolific author of caregiving books, proposes support for the caregiving mother on an ongoing basis, not only on Mother’s Day.
“Call her on a regular basis and ask how she's doing,” said Brown. “There’s no need to offer suggestions or advice. Simply listen and express your love. Your mom will feel like you just gave her a million dollars.”
Brown urges children to hire help and schedule a day with their mothers, or time off from cooking through a special monthly meal. “Take her out for lunch, shopping, or a sporting event, whatever she will enjoy.”
Siblings may abandon caring responsibilities, leaving caregivers the sole helper of older parents. Brown visualizes Mother’s Day as a rallying point for family involvement.
“On Mother’s Day, somebody else can become the designated caregiver for the day,” Brown encourages. “Create a schedule for each family member to take over caregiving duties.”
Brown sees her opening. “And, make this an ongoing holiday ritual. Any time the family gets together, the primary caregiver gets the day off and other family members chip in.”
Caregivers who play dual roles – parent and caregiver – feel a tremendous amount of stress. They devote time to a parent with health needs then worry that they short-change their children.
According to Brown, that attitude can lead to guilt and denial. Caregivers can be repeatedly asked about their condition and respond ‘I’m fine. I don’t need help.’
“Regularly call your mom and offer to help with chores like the laundry and the errands,” says Brown.
Year-round help and acknowledgement are the true gifts for a caregiver’s Mother’s Day.
Denise Brown tweets @caregiving.
She has written on many occasions for RetirementHomes.com.