Caregiving: Are we speaking the same language? Cassatt painting, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes Heather Jose, a teacher, healthcare provider and activist with a website called Go Beyond Treatment.

Are we speaking the same language?
You may have heard someone talk about their “love language.” In fact Gary Chapman has spent a lot of time looking at love languages and how they impact our relationships. You can even take an online quiz to determine your own love language.

What does that have to do with caregiving?
Quite a bit. Knowing what makes each of us feel cared for—and therefore loved—is important. It can make things so much easier too, if you know what the person your care for responds to. If they value quality time over receiving gifts you can see that an afternoon together is much more valuable than the perfect present.

Understanding language and expectations also can help you to respect boundaries. If you as a caregiver value physical touch—but that makes the person in your care uncomfortable—then a hug every time may not be the best move.

I knew even before I took the quiz that I feel loved and likewise cared for when my husband does something for me so that I don’t have to—described as acts of service. I also get a lot of confidence and energy from being praised, or as Gary describes it, being given words of affirmation.

It can be a challenge to do things for others the way they would want them done, but it will be appreciated.

What have you discovered about language you use with loved ones?

What do you appreciate?

What does the person you care for appreciate?

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

Heather Jose is the author of the book Letters to Sydney: Every Day I am Killing Cancer, co-author of The Healing Agreement—and a contributing writer for the Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine, Coping Magazine and Thrive.

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