Opinion Columns & Blogs

For all the caregivers in our lives, let’s give thanks

Reader columnist Paula Larson
Reader columnist Paula Larson Staff photo

It’s the time of year we tend to say “thanks.”

We’ll stop for a moment, an hour, a day to be thankful for family, friends, the roof over our heads, giant platters of turkey and many more gifts (for the lucky among us, anyway).

When you are counting your blessings, will you remember to be thankful for your family caregivers? You should, and not just because November is National Family Caregivers month.

Most of us have family caregivers in our lives. I know that I do. They are people who give their time, their effort and their hearts to family members or friends who need some assistance to live their everyday lives.

In my life it’s my sister who is first in line for my gratitude. She has lived next door and helped out our mom for more than a decade. She has taken care of her own household and helped my mom out with hers, day in, day out, as well as working long hours at her job. She is amazing, and I’m overwhelmingly thankful for all that she does.

Almost 10 years ago, my uncle had a fall that resulted in him living in a care facility, leaving my aunt alone, living with advanced rheumatoid arthritis and caring for a giant house. My cousin left his home, moved in with my aunt, and did physical therapy exercises with his dad every day at the facility, all while working his full-time job.

My uncle has since died, but my cousin is still there with his mom, taking care of the house and doing whatever my aunt cannot do. He is amazing, and I am thankful for all he does.

When I was really sick a couple of years back, my wife had to take on all of the responsibilities for the household and take care of me, all while working her full-time job. I hate being taken care of, so I’m not always the best patient. Plus our pets are elderly and need medicine and more attention than most.

I will always be grateful that she took care of our lives while I could not. Now that I’m better I still can’t do some of the chores I used to, and she does those things without complaint. She is completely amazing, and I am beyond thankful to have her in my life.

I work with adults and kids who live with disabilities, and they all have caregivers: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends and paid aides – people who help them live healthy, happy lives and assist them with the things that they cannot do. I am grateful that these caregivers are there for the people who rely on their care.

We all need a hand at some point in our lives. We get sick, have accidents, experience short-term and long-term physical, emotional or intellectual issues. If we are truly lucky, we will have family and friends to help care for us when that time comes.

It’s the time of year when we are thankful. I am thankful for my family caregivers, and this year I will tell them that. I will ask if they are OK, if there is any care that they need from me. Sometimes caregivers need care, too.

And I will resolve to tell them thank you more than just once a year.

P.S.: A great way to thank people is to donate food or money to one of our local food banks or other charities in their name. You can be a caregiver, too.

Paula Larson is a freelance writer and retired wildlife biologist. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Her email is larsonpaula383@yahoo.com.