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.


over 1 year ago, said...

I have a wonderful hubby - Ric is a delight. And my great best friend of thirty five years, Thelma. When I get back from a day at mom's (her heels are dug in firmly; she refuses any and all outside help at this point, and we will be moving her in with my sister around February)..I look to my dear ones here at home. They never fail to 'pick up a nice treat at the bakery..you'll like this with a cup of tea." Or we talk, and share stories of happier times. A history with good friends is especially helpful, because when you are feeling low, due to something you can't fix (a parent's declining from AD) those loved ones you can unburden with... are treasures beyond price. So, stay close to them, and remember - while your loved one struggles with AD - don't be shy about calling up a friend, or talking it out with your partner/mate!


over 2 years ago, said...

All. My husband, DOES thank me for all that I do for him. He knows that no one else would do some of the things that I do, because they do not want to take the time to be involved or informed.


almost 4 years ago, said...

My 83 ear old husband has dementia and the beginnings of Alzhiemer's, plus numerous medical conditions, osteoarthritis, a 2nd pacemaker implant (in 6 months, due to infection of the 1st one), vertigo, thyroid removal (2 months ago) and prostate cancer, which is being treated with hormone injections and radiation treatments (daily). After his 2nd pacemaker implant, he was transported from the hospital, directly to a skilled nursing facility. I simply could no longer provide for all of his healthcare needs, at home. His dementia began ten years ago and now that I'm about to be 66 years old, I am "worn out"! My husband's "adult" cildren live out of state and are of no help. They only criicize and question my every decision. My husband and I have been together for 32 years but I've come to know that his children have never accepted me and never will. This article was helpful. As a caregiver, 24/7 for so many years, I've had to forego healthcare for myself, felt guilty for any little pleasure I enjoyed and my self worth and personality has changed. I'm going to be 66 years "young"?? Thank you, for this article.


over 4 years ago, said...

Just reminding me to thank myself. To appreciate all the things I am thankful and grateful for and boy oh boy did I need this reminder today!


over 4 years ago, said...

Some of the greatest things that we do for others are done without their awareness. I think this is the true representation of unconditional love. While we know this to be true, it is still difficult at times to remember this. We all want to be appreciated. While we are caring for others we have to remember to care for ourselves.


over 4 years ago, said...

I bought myself a gratutide journal at the first of the year - it is the last thing I do at night and I do seem to have better thoughts as I fall to sleep. Lately, a line from a Bob Marley song has been running through my head - this morning I found myself singing it - Everyman think that his burden is the heaviest - I think of how fortunate I am to have a home, a loving family, my dogs, and to be able to do for my husband what I know he would do for me were the tables turned. Thank you for this wonderful site where we can share.


about 5 years ago, said...

Dear Paula, Thank you so much for this article! Extremely useful! I had an experience in the past, where I was introduced to a Japanese Philosophy that claimed: "Be always grateful to your family members (specially your parents), friends, coworkers, and, most importantly, to the Lord! Gratitude seems to be the secret to a happy life, no matter how hard it can be at times. That message has been in my mind since. I really notice an "action-reaction" mechanism. With gratitude in our hearts, the world surrounding us becomes better!


about 5 years ago, said...

It is interesting, my Love is always the first to say "Thank you" to a cashier, wait staff person or someone who holds the door open. Those old "Be Polite Rules" we taught our children are still in his memory bank! Smile!


about 5 years ago, said...

Just generally good ideas.


about 5 years ago, said...

I have learned the importance of "self talk". I've learned to tell myself what I NEED to hear. Smile! m n MN


over 5 years ago, said...

This article makes me realize how lucky we are to have my mother living with us, who says nightly when she goes to bed, "Thank you for ev-e-ry-thing!"


over 5 years ago, said...

This will help because you never get the appreiciation that you need to keep going you just get the pain and suffering and working put on you with all the other jobs you have.