Caregiving & The 5 Love Languages: How to Receive Support

If you’re familiar with the 5 love languages, it’s likely in the context of romantic relationships. It’s a popular exercise to put definition to the way we feel loved and appreciated. They come in handy for caregivers and supporters too, so we’re going to repurpose them as the 5 languages of care.

Your team of supporters are always looking for ways they can help that will really have an impact on you and your day-to-day. Knowing your own language of care can inform how you ask for support, and what exactly you ask for help with.

If you don’t know your love language, you can take this quick quiz to find out.

1. Words of Affirmation

The first language is Words of Affirmation. If your language is Words of Affirmation, you feel most loved and supported when someone expresses their feelings and support verbally. Oftentimes, we need to hear verbal confirmation that we’re doing a good job, doing the best we can, or keeping up a positive attitude. These words from our loved ones don’t need to be too fancy - just a quick and encouraging message in passing, via text, or a brief phone call out of the blue can resonate deeply and recharge us. 

2. Acts of Service

The Acts of Service language is more actionable. This means you feel most loved when someone goes out of their way to offer up their help. This doesn’t always have to be as grand as it sounds. Getting help with one small task or chore can have a major impact on you, and leave you feeling appreciated for days afterward.

The key here is that these actions are taken without prompting. Actions speak louder than words here, and help that is offered proactively has the biggest impact.

3. Receiving Gifts

This language of care is often misunderstood. Some people see it as being materialistic or frivolous. But it’s just as much about the thought and care behind the gift than the size, price, or worth of the item itself.

For example, if someone can think back to something you vented about or mentioned struggling with, and respond with an item that could really help you out. What you’re really looking for is not a materialistic or self-serving gift, but a physical token of understanding and support.

4. Quality Time

If you feel most loved when spending quality time with someone, it might be because you are craving connection, conversation, or just the feeling of being around someone else’s energy. 

Caregivers have so many things going on at once, and quality time with anyone other than your care recipient is not typically a reality. Quality time where you are allowed to express your feelings and concerns, with someone on the other end who is ready to listen and offer undivided attention can make all the difference.

5. Physical Touch

If any one of us is without physical touch for extended periods of time, feelings of isolation can intensify, which is something most caregivers struggle with regularly.

These moments of physical contact can be quiet, quick, and spontaneous. A hug from someone when you’re especially stressed or tired, a squeeze of the hand when someone notices you feeling alone, or an actual shoulder to cry on. These small gestures can be small, but deeply meaningful.

When you become familiar with your language of care, it’s easier to recognize what you really need from those around you. Beyond the practical help of scheduling appointments and carpools, we need to define how we really feel supported - how we feel seen, heard and loved. This is a good place to start.