“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” –Mark Twain.
As you may or may not know, Random Acts of Kindness Week is coming up. There is even an organization that is dedicated to this cause. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s mission is to inspire people to practice kindness and pass it on to others. This seems so simple, yet so few of us think about it. This is a huge challenge, as we are all so busy, because we tend to get caught up in our own lives.
While we have an entire week, and an organization, dedicated to doing random acts of kindness, there are people out there who make kindness an integral part of their lives and practice it all the time. One example of those who do random acts of kindness all the time is caregivers to seniors all over the country. Caregivers provide care to others, giving their time and energy to those who need it. They provide not only physical support, but also emotional support. Women and men regularly take the time to go grocery shopping for seniors, take them to doctor’s appointments, and run other errands. They also provide emotional support when seniors just want to sit and talk; they provide a compassionate ear. Sometimes caregivers have a choice in the role they play to seniors; sometimes they do not. Here are a few facts about caregivers (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
• There are approximately 34 million unpaid caregivers who provide care to those ill or disabled.
• An estimated 21% of households in the U.S. are impacted by caregiving responsibilities.
• Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90% of long-term care.
• The majority (83%) are family caregivers- family members, friends, and neighbors of all ages who are providing care for a relative.
I had the opportunity to witness the impact caregivers have on seniors while volunteering at a senior living community. The actions of these women and men would vary considerably. They would attend guest performances with seniors, making sure everyone was comfortably situated so they could get the most enjoyment from the event. Other times, caregivers would go on walks with the seniors, giving them a chance to enjoy some fresh air or just get some exercise. Additionally, I would observe them simply sitting with the seniors, reading, knitting, or watching TV. The action of merely providing company for the seniors made a significant and lasting impact on their lives. I was struck by the fact that while many of these actions were simple, they had a profound impact on the lives of everyone in the community. The caregivers’ time and commitment helped make the community feel like a home.
We see and experience random acts of kindness all the time, as it can take many forms. Caregivers to seniors are just one example. From the simplest random act of kindness, such as a smile, to the more involved, such as running errands, random acts of kindness can have a huge impact on the recipient, the giver, as well as everyone else.
What will your random act of kindness be this week, next week, and every week?