by Jack Keenan, Contributing Writer
With Valentine’s Day upon us, we can’t help but think of love. Love for your spouse or significant other and love for your children, friends, and extended family are brought to the forefront on this day. Buying gifts, a greeting card, or candy has become the norm in today’s society. But after the day goes away, how do you keep that feeling alive?
Love and life
Life has its many challenges, and if you have an aging loved one, the challenges can be even greater. Your love for that person never needs to be expressed on a holiday. Just as his or her love for you throughout your life was limitless, that feeling is returned. But how can you return that love without feeling guilty about the decisions you are making, most especially on behalf of that person?
Not selfish, but selfless
A very deep compassionate love begins with deciding what is in the best interest of your loved one. Engaging the aid of an in-home caregiver — and in doing so, taking some of the burden from you — is possibly one of the greatest gestures of love you can show. You aren’t abandoning your responsibilities; rather, you are providing the best of care that, due to your own limitations, you could not always provide yourself. Few family caregivers can do everything on their own — at least, not everything a loved one deserves — without some support. And by realizing that and getting your loved one what he or she needs, and in return what you need, you are conveying a very special love. It’s an act of love that speaks for itself, as it communicates that you want the absolute best for him or her.
That’s where the greatest gift of all comes in: your willingness to provide for your aging loved one in their own environment with help from a professional. Not only is it a selfless — rather than selfish — act of love, but almost always, a guarantee that your caregiver will become a extended member of your family. What joy both the caregiver and receiver feel when such a bond is formed — a bond was born out of love.
In the end, letting go of some of your caregiver tasks also shows that you love yourself — enough to take care of yourself and take a break as necessary.
Cherish the love in your life!
So on this day, cherish the love you have in your life. Cherish it from everyone. As we grow older, the relationships we have in life will far outweigh the material things. Yes, candy is nice, but the love of a family member only wanting the best for you — and ensure that you receive the best — is absolutely priceless!