[caption id="attachment_186" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Assisted Living"][/caption]The life of a caregiver that works in assisted living can be emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Whether they are family members or professionals hired to care for loved ones, the daily grind of caring for a senior can be taxing, and requires a lot of patience and love. That is why this Thanksgiving, it's important to be thankful not only for the things we have in our lives, but also for these wonderful, compassionate people who give of themselves every day. Whether it’s someone who cares for your loved one in an assisted living facility, or someone who delivers home care daily, caregivers are unique and very special, and they deserve to be recognized for their heart and dedication.Thanking Caregivers the Proper WayCaregiving is not like other professions, however; how to adequately thank someone for their time and service can be a bit touchy, especially if the reason for the thanks comes after the senior has died or relocated somewhere else. You must find ways to adequately and appropriately extend gratitude without being insulting or demeaning. This includes knowing what kind of gift is appropriate and how to approach the gift-giving. Here are some things to consider when thinking about the proper way to thank your loved one's assisted living caregiver.Under what circumstances did the caregiver(s) get hired? One of the first things to think about when considering gifts for a caregiver is whether the caregiver was hired through an agency, privately by the family, as a part-time addition to the already-existing care schedule, etc. The circumstances under which a caregiver was hired can have an effect on how much interaction that person has had with the family and how closely the family feels that the caregiver has become to their loved one.How long have they been caring for your loved one? Another key factor in thanking your caregiver is how long they have been working for the family. Many families decide on a token of appreciation commensurate with time of service. Whereas someone who has been with a loved one for 15 years may certainly be considered for a substantial monetary or material compensation, someone who has interacted with the loved one for only a few months may receive a token gift.Are they a hired professional or a family member? It is one thing when the caregiver is a hired professional; when someone is hired, it is generally appropriate to give a monetary bonus, a gift or some sort of recognition for their work. If it's a family member, on the other hand, it may be difficult – and in some cases downright insulting – to attempt to give them a gift as a symbol of gratitude for their dedication. Family members and friends who are taking care of loved ones more often than not appreciate help rather than recognition; in such cases a spa day or a “day off” to relax and take care of themselves is an ideal gift. Another excellent option might be hiring someone to relieve them a couple of times a week, or even hiring someone to clean the house once a week – all of these things can be quite helpful so that the caregiver can re-energize, mentally, physically, and emotionally.How much can you and your family afford? Of course, in today's tough economy, it can be quite difficult to come up with a lot of money for a thank you gift. In some cases, when the caregiver has been helping the family – whether at home or in an assisted living facility – for many, many years, the family and even the loved one may see it fit to compensate their helper with an amount from the estate once the senior loved one dies. In most cases, however, the family simply considers what they can afford for an appropriate gift.Alternatives for Seniors has a more comprehensive and detailed list of ideas available. Find assisted living or retirement communities at Alternatives for Seniors, which offers a directory (in print and online) that specifically caters to the housing and care concerns of senior citizens and their families. Gain access to information from thousands of nationwide health and care facilities, including independent living, assisted living, nursing care, and more, without ever leaving your computer. Be social, too! Join our Facebook and Twitter community for the latest news and information on housing for seniors.