When Caregiving Is Thankless . . . Say Thanks Yourself!

Dementia caregiving often feels thankless, not in small part because caregivers so seldom hear that simple word, "Thanks!" The gratitude you hope your loved one feels may not always come across, and families may go about their business not fully fathoming all you do.

But you yourself have the power to say thanks, and reap the ripple effect. Try these four ideas:

1. Focus your energy less on what you're not hearing and more on what you yourself are grateful for. It's one of those strange-but-truisms that expressing appreciation -- to others or even to ourselves -- makes us feel better, whether or not we hear it back.

2. Include yourself in the list of people you appreciate. It's a small thing (and nowhere near as great as flowers or dinner!) but a sanity-saver. Don't be shy about treating yourself -- throwing a bouquet in the cart with your groceries or picking a few garden buds, ordering a yummy takeout, and so on.

3. Thank those who help you: family, aides, friends. They may learn from your example. And it always feels good to be on the moral high ground.

4. Keep a gratitude journal. Jot down something you're grateful for each day -- a brilliant sunset, a weak smile from your loved one. It sounds corny, but it's an inspiring way to force your brain toward the positive.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio