Visits: More than Just Business

Are you short of time? Family caregivers truly understand the feeling of, there’s always so much to be done and so little time to do it.

While you may feel like you are being practical and productive, a task-focused visit can inadvertently demean your loved one. No one wants to feel like an item on a to-do list! For your loved one, there’s a huge difference between feeling cared about and being cared for.

Try these suggestions to help make your visits more than just business:

  • Slow down. Take a tip from Dr. Dennis McCullough, author of My Mother, Your Mother: Embracing “Slow Medicine,” the Compassionate Approach to Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones. The elders operate at a slower pace than the working world. Take a few deep breaths and get your mind out of the fast lane before even walking in the door. Still focused on your to-do list? Make enjoying the moment one of the highest priorities on list.
  • Break up the routine. As convenient as it is to have a standing date with your loved one, it can make feel like an obligation for you both. Keep some flexibility and choice. If you always go shopping with Mom on Sunday, setup a bonus Thursday dinner date. “Date night” with a loved one can do a lot to preserve their self-esteem and remind the both of you that there is a relationship there past the realities of elder care.
  • Allow them their dignity. There is a strong desire in humans to reciprocate when given to. Or they may feel like a “freeloader” or a burden. Think of the ways your loved one can give back to you. Not necessarily through material gifts. Tell them you value their stories, humor, wisdom, or other treasures they share with you.

No matter how often you visit your loved one, always remember the reason you are there is much larger than the things that have to get done.